CHICAGO (WGN) — Governor J.B. Pritzker warned high and rising coronavirus test positivity rates in some southern Illinois counties could lead to increased mitigation measures during a visit to the region Tuesday.
Speaking in Cairo on Tuesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker said while the pandemic “once seemed tame” in southern Illinois, it’s now surging across the region.
“It’s worse than in Chicago. And I’ll be frank, if we don’t see some change here the virus will cause some businesses to close and an increasing percentage of people to get sick, and some will even die,” Pritzker said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,471 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 19 additional coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday, while the statewide positivity rate from July 28- August 3 ticked down slightly to 3.9 percent, near where it has been since rising from around 3 percent in late July.
As of Sunday, five regions established in the state’s “Restore Illinois” plan are at the state’s “warning” level after seeing a rise in positivity rates for at least seven of the past 10 days. These statistics are on a slight delay as the state verifies cases.
State guidelines would put new mitigation measures in place if a region sees three consecutive days of a positivity rate of 8 percent or more, or if a region has both an increase in positivity over seven of 10 days and a 7-day increase in hospitalizations.
Hospitalizations statewide remain within limits outlined by state health officials, with 1,496 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 365 in intensive care and 125 on ventilators.
Positivity rates in the Southern Illinois (7.3 percent) and Metro East (7.2 percent) regions remain at the highest level in the state as of August 1.
Last week, the IDPH identified 11 counties as reaching the state’s COVID-19 “warning” level. In Jackson County, Pritzker said they are seeing quadruple the number of cases per resident as the state’s warning level.
“I know there were many people who thought, ‘I’m home free, I live in a county where no one has gotten sick,’ but it was just a matter of time,” Pritzker said.
According to Pritzker, the highest increase is among young people who are 20 years old and younger, some outbreaks being traced back to back-to-school parties of Southern Illinois University students and other large gatherings.
Earlier Tuesday, health officials in Chicago added Puerto Rico to an emergency travel order requiring anyone arriving from there to self-quarantine for 14 days. The city also launched a new task force focused on cracking down on large parties and gatherings.
Illinois’ positivity rate is the 14th lowest in the nation, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, while the CDC reports the state confirmed the seventh highest number of cases in the U.S. over the past seven days.
Indiana health officials reported 836 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 coronavirus-related deaths in the state Tuesday, with a statewide positivity rate from July 22-28 of 7.3 percent.