CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended the metrics used to guide his regional COVID-19 resurgence mitigation plan, which have triggered restrictions on indoor service at restaurants and bars across most of the state.
Coronavirus positivity rates in all but one region of Illinois are above the 8 percent fail-safe threshold that leads to increased restrictions under the governor’s Restore Illinois plan and executive orders.
“Let’s be clear,” Pritzker said. “Well-meaning and reasonable people can have fair disagreements about how and where to draw lines and connect dots, but when every single metric in every single corner of our state is trending poorly, we have to take meaningful action to keep our people safe”
In addition to a positivity rate that has risen by 3.4 percentage points since Oct. 1, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 rose by 73 percent, while the number of coronavirus patients in the state’s intensive care units is up by 61 percent this month, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data Pritzker shared at a briefing Thursday in Chicago.
Of the two regions where restrictions have yet to be imposed: Region 6, the Champaign EMS region, is on track to see restrictions announced Friday, having already averaged two days above the 8 percent mark. And Region 2, the Peoria EMS region, saw its positivity rate rise to 7.9 percent on the most recent day for which data was available.
The restrictions can also be triggered by a period of seven out of 10 days with both increasing positivity rates and an increasing rounded rolling average number of new daily hospitalizations of people with coronavirus symptoms. That led to the first tier of mitigations in suburban Cook County and Chicago before the regions also triggered restrictions by spending three days above the 8-percent mark.
“Bars and restaurants are spreading locations,” Pritzker said. “We need to clamp down because we need to bring the numbers down. They’re headed in the wrong direction, and unfortunately bars and restaurants are the location — no fault of the people who own them or operate them or even people who visit them — but it is true that those are places where there is a higher transmission likelihood than other locations.”
Tiered mitigations restricting indoor dining and limiting the size of gatherings have been imposed on nine of the state’s 11 regions. Region 3, the Springfield emergency medical services region, Thursday became the latest to trigger the additional measures. One region — Region 1 in Northwest Illinois — has advanced to the second tier of mitigations. “Tier 2” includes a 10-person gathering size limit and a six-person limit at outdoor tables.
Pritzker was asked whether the first two tiers of limitations that be enough to curb the spread.
“I don’t know. I really would like to know the answer to that. This virus is unknowable, seemingly,” he said. “We didn’t know when we put the stay-at-home order back in March, we didn’t know if that was enough. We