Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Illinois as authorities crack down on bars, restaurants

(The Center Square) – Despite half of Illinois counties being placed at warning levels for the coronavirus, don’t expect a statewide lockdown.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported the number of counties on warning level status increased from 34 to 51 in the past week. During his daily COVID-19 briefing Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state will stay the course.

“We created the regions and the methodology from resurgence mitigations so we can avoid statewide stay-at-home orders,” Pritzker said. “We learned an awful lot since March so we are looking to stick to the plan that we have.”

Pritzker said the state’s infection rate is up 17 percent over a week ago, and warned that behavior to mitigate the spread of the virus now will affect how many people are hospitalized on Halloween.

It also appears Pritzker’s threat to go after bars and restaurants that don’t obey mitigation standards is becoming reality. Several establishments in the Rockford area have been ordered closed by the Winnebago County Health Department for serving patrons inside. Region 1 goes under stricter mitigation standards Oct. 25.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who broke down in tears during Friday’s daily COVID-19 briefing, said contact tracing many times leads a trail back to bars and restaurants.

“Time after time, bars and restaurants come up as the number 2 or the number 3 place that all of those cases frequented,” she said.

With colder months approaching, bar and restaurant owners have voiced concern that their businesses will not be able to survive if they do not remain open.

The Illinois Department of Public Health Friday reported 3,874 new cases of the coronavirus in Illinois, including 31 additional deaths. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 364,033 cases since the pandemic began, including 9,148 deaths.

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