Virus positivity rate up again; 13 counties in warning territory | Health and Fitness

SPRINGFIELD — The rolling seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in Illinois continues to tick upward, hitting 4.1% Friday — its highest mark since June 11.

There were 2,084 new confirmed cases of the virus reported Friday among 46,869 test results recorded over the previous 24 hours. That made for a one-day positivity rate of 4.4% across the state.

On the same day Gov. JB Pritzker announced he would file an emergency rule to allow for fines of businesses flouting masking or capacity guidelines, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced there were 13 counties in Illinois at a warning level for COVID-19 transmission. None of those counties are in the Quad-City area.

A previous effort to enact a similar policy for business fines failed in May as the Pritzker administration withdrew an emergency administrative rule after lawmakers said they would work on legislation detailing a fine structure. That legislation never came to a vote in the abbreviated May legislative session, however, as there appeared to be bipartisan opposition to such a rule.

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While the governor has said lawmakers abdicated their responsibilities on the issue, on Friday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, called on the governor to scrap the rule and work with lawmakers.

“Today, I am calling on Governor Pritzker to abandon his ‘mask rule’ and work with the legislature on this issue,” Durkin said in a news release. “I am committed to respecting his priorities while recognizing the undue hardship his current rule places on businesses that are already struggling across Illinois. To do this, the Governor should immediately call the legislature into special session where we can also address the urgent need for ethics reform and the controversies surrounding the Democratic Party and Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.”

The governor has previously said he does not plan to call a special session. Democratic leaders of the general assembly have not indicated they plan to do so either.

The 13 counties currently reported at a warning level are Cass, Coles, Grundy, Iroquois, Jackson, Monroe, Perry, Saline, St. Clair, Tazewell, Union, Williamson and Winnebago.

According to IDPH, a county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators measuring the rate of increase are met. Indicators include new cases per 100,000 people; number of deaths; weekly test positivity; intensive care unit availability; weekly emergency department visits; weekly hospital admissions; number of tests performed; and the percent of COVID-19 cases associated with clusters or outbreaks.

IDPH reported the counties saw cases or outbreaks associated with open businesses, long-term care facilities, large social gatherings and out-of-state travel.

“There have been several instances of multiple cases among family members in the same, large household. Students returning to universities and colleges are also driving the recent increase in cases in several communities. Many students are not wearing face coverings or social distancing and are gathering in large groups and at bars,” IDPH reported in a news release.

IDPH also reported another 21 COVID-19-related deaths statewide Friday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 7,613 among 190,508 confirmed cases. More than 2.98 million test results have been reported statewide.

At the end of Thursday, 1,486 people in Illinois were reported hospitalized with COVID-19, including 333 in intensive-care unit beds and 125 on ventilators. All of those numbers showed a slight upswing from recent pandemic lows.

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