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Coronavirus

Here's where each health region in northern Illinois stands as of Wednesday

IDPH releases COVID-19 safety guidance for the holiday season

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, delivers the latest numbers for the COVID-19 pandemic during Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's daily press briefing on COVID-19 in his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool)
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, delivers the latest numbers for the COVID-19 pandemic during Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's daily press briefing on COVID-19 in his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool)

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The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,862 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 additional deaths Wednesday.

The seven-day rolling average of Illinois’ positivity rate currently is at 4.6%, representing an increase of more than one full percentage point over the past week, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday.

The state received the results of 52,669 COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours leading up to Wednesday afternoon.

Illinois now has seen 327,605 total cases of the virus and 9,074 people have died. The state has conducted a total of 6,463,923 tests since the start of the pandemic.

As of late Tuesday, Illinois had 1,974 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, a decrease of 31 patients over the last 24 hours. Of those, 390 were in intensive care units, and 153 were on ventilators.

In a press conference given Wednesday afternoon, Pritzker said the statewide positivity rate as well as hospital admission metrics in most regions are worsening, but that Illinois is still looking better than many of its neighboring states. The state still leads in the amount of daily tests conducted, reporting three times as many tests each day compared to the average state, Pritzker said.

The governor also announced the release of COVID-19 safety tips for the holiday season on the IDPH website.

"When confronted with decisions about the upcoming holiday season, many people who have erred on the side of caution up to now might face new temptation to let their guard down," Pritzker said. "Well, let me be blunt, this virus isn't taking a holiday."

IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said the best course of action is for immediate families to celebrate the holidays on their own and to connect with extended family virtually. However, since she understands that not every Illinois family will want to celebrate this way, the agency has provided recommendations on how to travel and celebrate in larger groups as safely as possible.

The first point she addressed was travel, saying that using a face covering while traveling by plane, bus or train is crucial since passengers are not able to maintain six feet of distance for the duration of the trip.

Traveling by car with immediate family members only is the best way to reduce exposure to COVID-19, according to IDPH guidance. Ezike also recommended that residents self-quarantine before and after traveling and that they cancel trips if they begin to feel unwell.

For those who may be hosting family gatherings, celebrating outside as weather permits or opening windows inside to increase ventilation are good things to keep in mind, Ezike said. Hosts can also consider seating their guests by household and creating a bit of distance between tables, she said.

When it comes to serving food, individually plated meals are less of a risk than a buffet-style meal, according to Ezike.

As residents begin to think about holiday shopping, they should consider ordering online, buying things online to pick up in stores or shopping in person safely by avoiding peak shopping times, she said.

"We don't want to have our holidays marred by tragedy on the backend," Ezike said.

In the update, the governor condemned the Tuesday U.S. Supreme Court ruling which upheld the Trump administration's decision to end the U.S. Census Thursday instead of at the end of the month as originally planned.

"In normal times, the census is a monumental undertaking and the pandemic has brought countless new challenges," Pritzker said. "The consequences of this decision will reverberate for at least the next 10 years."

Pritzker urged residents to ensure that they as well as their friends and family members have filled out the census by the end of the day Wednesday by visiting 2020Census.gov.

Finally, Ezike announced that the IDPH will begin reporting COVID-19 test metrics of both molecular and antigen tests, rather than just focusing on the more commonly used molecular test data as it had before. Both testing methods are designed to diagnose COVID-19, not to be confused with antibody tests which look for previous infection.

"Antigen tests thus far have comprised less than 1% of all tests performed to date," she said. "But with more rapid antigen tests being deployed to the states from the federal government and other sources ... we will see the number of antigen tests increase."

Regional update: Additional restrictions can be placed on any of the state's 11 health regions if the region sustains an increase in its average positivity rate for seven days out of a 10-day period.

A region may also become more restrictive if there is a seven-day increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-related illness or a reduction in hospital medical/surgical beds or ICU capacity below 20%. If a region reports three consecutive days with greater than an 8% average positivity rate, additional infection mitigation will be considered through a tiered system of restriction guidelines offered by the IDPH.

The North Suburban region (McHenry and Lake counties) has seen five days of positivity increases and six days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate held steady at 6.2%. Currently, 38% of medical/surgical beds are available and 50% of ICU beds.

Regional data from IDPH remains on a three-day lag, but within this region, McHenry County's seven-day positivity rate average has now climbed to 8.1%. Lake County, which does about two-thirds of the testing in the region, is reporting a rolling average of 5.5%.

The West Suburban region (DuPage and Kane counties) has seen seven days of positivity increases -- meeting one criteria for stricter mitigation measures -- and four days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate increased from 6.4% to 6.7%. Currently, 32% of medical/surgical beds are available and 48% of ICU beds.

The South Suburban region (Will and Kankakee counties) has seen six days of positivity increases and five days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate increased from 6.1 to 6.3%. Currently, 30% of the region's medical/surgical beds are available and 32% of ICU beds.

The North region (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties) has seen six days of positivity increases and two days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate increased significantly from 9.6% to 10.1%, still the highest rate of any of the state's 11 regions. Currently, 37% of medical/surgical beds are available and 43% of ICU beds.

The North region (Region 1) is under additional COVID-19 mitigation measures from the IDPH as of Saturday, Oct. 3. If Region 1 continues to report positivity rates above 8%, further mitigation efforts may be taken. To return to the standard Phase 4 restrictions, the region will need to maintain an average positivity rate of less than or equal to 6.5% over a 14-day period.

The region's counties that are reporting the highest positivity rates are Winnebago (11.1%), Boone (10.9%), Lee (10.6%) and Jo Daviess (10.4%). DeKalb County's postivity rate is at 8.8%.

The North-Central region (Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford counties) has seen four days of positivity increases and two days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate increased from 5.5% to 5.6%. Currently, 38% of medical/surgical beds are available and 42% of ICU beds.

Chicago has seen four days of positivity increases and six days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate increased from 4.7% to 4.9%. Currently, 27% of medical/surgical beds are available and 34% of ICU beds.

Suburban Cook County has seen six days of positivity increases and six days of hospital admission increases. The region's positivity rate increased from 5.6% to 5.9%. Currently, 26% of medical/surgical beds are available and 31% of ICU beds.

To see how other regions across the state are doing, see the full IDPH dashboard here.

Newly reported deaths include:

- Adams County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s

- Christian County: 1 male 60s

- Coles County: 1 male 80s

- Cook County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 3 males 90s

- DeKalb County: 1 female 60s

- DuPage County: 2 females 80s

- Ford County: 1 female 80s

- Franklin County: 1 female 100+

- Jefferson County: 1 male 70s

- Jersey County: 1 female 90s

- Jo Daviess County: 1 female 90s

- Kane County: 1 male 80s

- Knox County: 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s

- Logan County: 2 male 80s

- Madison County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s

- Marion County: 1 male 80s

- Marshall County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s

- Peoria County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s

- Randolph County: 1 male 80s

- Rock Island County: 2 males 60s

- Sangamon County: 1 male 50s, 2 males 70s

- St. Clair County: 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s

- Vermilion County: 1 male 80s

- Will County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 female 90s

- Winnebago County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s

- Woodford County: 1 female 60s

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