This September 21, 2020, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker speaks in Springfield, Illinois (Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP).
The rising COVID-19 cases in Chicago prompted Governor JB Pritzker on Tuesday to ban indoor dining and the bar and limit the number of people gathered in one place.
However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she isn’t sure Pritzker’s new restrictions are targeting the right people and fear they could hurt the city’s economy.
The rules, which go into effect on Friday, will force guests and bar patrons to be outside and cease service at 11 p.m. in the third largest city in the country. No more than 25 people may gather at the same time, or less if this number exceeds 25% of the room capacity.
“We cannot ignore what is happening around us because without action it could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker said, referring to the start of the pandemic when health care resources were reaching their limits because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases.
Chicago, which includes Region 11 of the state’s 11 COVID-19 surveillance regions, joins six additional regions known as “resurrection mitigations” by the Pritzker government. The day before, Pritzker had imposed restrictions on Region 10, Cook County outside Chicago and Lake County to the north.
Lightfoot told PBS NewsHour that the city’s biggest challenge is getting people to follow necessary health protocols at home, where social settings vary and are more difficult to regulate.
In this September 21, 2020 file photo, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker lowers his head as the Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, announcing seven more deaths from COVID-19 during a press conference in Springfield, Illinois.The coronavirus pandemic, Governor JB Pritzker, began making plans for the distribution of a safe and effective vaccine on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 . (Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal Register via AP)
“When the governor’s order goes into effect, a significant part of our economy will be effectively shut down if the same companies are really hanging by a thread,” said Lightfoot. “So we’re going to continue our commitment to the governor of his team, but it’s not looking good.”
After a summer of declining case numbers – Illinois outperformed many other states, especially in the south and west – they started climbing again in August and jumped steeply that month. There were 4,000 new infections and 46 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 382,985 cases with 9,568 deaths.
There were 2,758 hospitalized admissions, an 86% increase from the previous month, and both ICU patients with 595 and 241 with ventilators showed an increase in the range of 70%.
Other regions that hit damage control did so when positive rates of COVD-19 test results exceeded 8% for three consecutive days. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state health director, said the latest additions, Cook County on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday, had seen a worrying spike in the number of sick people requiring hospitalization and an increase in positive test results.
“Due to current trends, we may soon be faced with decreased availability of hospital beds and overloading of our health systems,” said Ezike.
The previous Tuesday, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner for the Chicago Department of Health, predicted the governor’s action, pointing out that while COVID-19 is not as prevalent in Chicago as it was in the early days of the March pandemic, the number of confirmed cases is doubling every nine days .
“COVID is rife here in Chicago and you need to focus on the things that you know work,” said Arwady. “Please as much as you can, if there are interactions that are not material, back off.”
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