Central Illinois leaders respond to Region 7 moving into warning level, say how we can slow the spread of COVID-19

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Another region in Illinois is seeing increased restrictions on businesses.

Bars and restaurants in Region 7 (Will and Kankakee Counties) have to close at 11:00 p.m. starting Wednesday, Aug. 26. Central Illinois is in Region 2.

To get to the same warning level as Regions 4 (Metro East) and 7, Region 2 needs three consecutive days with a positivity rate of 8% or higher. The region holds nearly 20 counties and when one county’s positivity rate increases, it impacts the entire region’s positivity rate.

State health leaders reminded people Tuesday about the importance of wearing face coverings.

“If everyone would wear their mask in public and keep a reasonable distance for everyone we can reduce infections and deaths in a short period of time,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“To the people who say face coverings don’t work, you’re simply wrong. It doesn’t matter what video you saw on the internet or the fake headline you read, face coverings save lives,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Pritzker announced Tuesday that no indoor dining will be allowed starting Wednesday in Will and Kankakee counties (Region 7).

Region 2, including all of Central Illinois, has not reached three consecutive days of an 8% COVID-19 positivity rate, but health leaders warn if the region doesn’t start wearing masks, washing hands, and watching our distance from others, it could end up moving backward soon.

“(We) need people to realize that that one positive could have 5-20 contacts or even more that have to be quarantined. It’s not just one positive patient that has to be isolated,” said Public Information Officer of the Woodford County Health Department Andrea Ingwersen.

As of Aug. 22, Region 2 sits at 6.4% according to the IDPH website. When one county struggles, it impacts the rest.

“We need to work together so everyone hears the same message. but also it’s that important that we’re all on the same page, that’s the way to mitigate this through our communities,” Ingwersen said.

McLean County health leaders announced Tuesday its 7-day positivity rate is getting closer to the warning level. It sits at 7.4%. Peoria County sits at 4.16% and Woodford County at 3.34%. Any county’s rising rates will also raise the whole region’s positivity rate.

If the region does enter the warning level, it also means all events and social gatherings go down to 25 people per event or 25% capacity of the venue, whichever is less.

Ingwersen said if the local health department calls, answer the phone. She said no one is in trouble, health leaders are just trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Two weeks ago we reported 155 cases, it’s not just the positive, it’s also their close contacts you have to keep in mind. A week ago it was 191, today we’re up to 250,” Ingwersen said.

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