Indoor dining at suburban Cook County restaurants and bars will be suspended effective Wednesday as the region joins a growing list of locations across Illinois where surging COVID-19 cases have triggered restrictions.
A combination of rising virus test positivity rates and hospitalizations caused the Illinois Department of Public Health to crack down, officials said Monday.
The announcement comes after the state reported 4,729 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths Monday. The number of new daily cases has increased by 69% in October, or from an average of 1,952 between Sept. 1 and 26, to 3,297 so far this month.
The state’s virus test positivity rate is 6.3% based on a seven-day average; a week ago it was 5.4%.
Suburban Cook is “the first region in Illinois to earn additional mitigations not because of its positivity rate alone, but because its positivity rate and its COVID-related hospitalizations have both seen a sustained increase over the last 10 days,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.
“We are seeing test positivity across the state increase, but for Region 10, suburban Cook County, we are also seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations for COVID-like illness,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said.
The actions also mean restaurants and bars must close at 11 p.m. In addition, any meetings, social events or gatherings now must be limited to 25 or fewer people or 25% of room capacity, compared to the current level of 50 people or 50% capacity.
Suburban Cook’s test positivity rate is at 7.7% based on a rolling average and it’s been rising for eight days, Cook County Department of Public Health Co-Lead Rachel Rubin said. On Oct. 16, the rate was 6.8%.
The state also imposed similar restrictions Monday on the Metro East Region near St. Louis for the second time, which includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties. The region had a positivity rate of above 8% for the last three days.
There were 57,264 tests recorded in the last 24 hours.
The number of patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 is at 2,638 as of Sunday evening, a dip from the seven-day average of 2,488.
Total cases of COVID-19 statewide are 378,985 and the number of people who have succumbed to the virus is 9,522.
On Sunday, Cook County reported more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours, Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.
Hospital admission increases in Cook County have grown from 31 on Oct. 13 to 49 patients as of Thursday, according to IDPH data Monday. A total of 30% of ICU beds are available and 25% of medical/surgical beds are available; anything below 20% is another risk factor that could cause state intevention.
“We are all experiencing COVID fatigue, but we must remain vigilant and continue practicing the common-sense strategies that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Preckwinkle said in a statement.
The dining suspension comes amid pushback from some suburban restaurants that defied orders to close indoor seating in DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties Friday. The four counties are also facing restrictions after their test positivity rates surpassed 8%, which trips state action after three days.