Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to rise in suburban Cook County.
The seven-day test positivity rate for the region is 5.7%, up from 5.2% a week ago, according to Illinois Department of Public Health regional data. A test positivity of 5% or greater means COVID-19 is spreading unchecked, according to officials.
The county has seen virus-related hospitalizations increase for 10 consecutive days; and for three days, the availability of intensive care unit beds has dipped below 20%, according to IDPH data reported Thursday.
Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan, those metrics should trigger a return to tighter tier 1 mitigations.
A spokesperson for IDPH said Thursday that officials are “closely monitoring the metrics and evaluating how increasing vaccination rates will impact the need for further mitigation if numbers don’t improve. Local municipalities are still able to put in place more stringent mitigations.”
Representatives for the Cook County Department of Public Health were unavailable for comment, according to a spokesperson. But officials warned last week that if infection rates continued to move in the wrong direction they wouldn’t hesitate to take action.
A return to tier 1 mitigations would reduce indoor dining capacity limits from 50%, or a maximum 50 people, to 25% or 25 people per room. Bars that do not serve food would have to suspend indoor service, and meetings and events would be limited to 25% overall room capacity or 25 guests.
Under the current phase 4 rules, outdoor social events, including weddings, are capped at 100 people. Indoor gatherings are capped at 50% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
State health officials urged people to wear masks, avoid large crowds, social distance and to get tested for COVID-19 if they’ve gathered in groups or believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Officials also urge residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All Illinois residents older than age 16 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The expansion of vaccine eligibility to any Illinois adult regardless of their age, health or employment does not include the city of Chicago, which receives a separate supply of vaccine doses directly from the federal government. Chicago will expand its eligibility next week.
Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz | (773) 509-5452 | [email protected]