Illinois COVID-19: IL reports 1,941 new coronavirus cases, 35 deaths; Pritzker says Region 7 could have restrictions removed soon

ByEric Horng and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Pritzker says Region 7 restrictions could be removed if positivity rate stays under 6.5%
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The governor said Will and Kankakee counties could have COVID-19 mitigation measures removed if they stay below a 6.5% positivity rate for three more days.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker said Region 7, made up of Will and Kankakee counties, is on track to have mitigations removed if current trends hold.

The update comes as Illinois public health officials announced 1,941 new cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths Wednesday.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 266,151 with 8,367 deaths, the IDPH reported.

The preliminary seven-day positivity rate from September 9 - September 15 is 3.7%.

Over a 24 hour period, officials said the state processed 52,311 specimens for a total of 4,863,138.

As of Tuesday night, 1,565 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 345 patients in the ICU and 143 patients on ventilators.

At his update Wednesday, Pritzker said Region 7 has seen its positivity rate dip to 6.4 percent Wednesday, below the 6.5% benchmark. If it remains there for three days, he said that mitigations will be removed and the region can return to Phase 4 of reopening.

At Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, officials said they've seen cases drop by about one-third since mid-August, when they were in the midst of a summer COVID-19 resurgence.

"It is encouraging but it doesn't mean to be lax," said Dr. Christopher Udovich, chief medical officer at Silver Cross. "So all the things that have gotten us in the lower positivity rate we need to continue."

"If there's one thing we've learned over the last six months, it's never get overconfident," said Steve Brandy, public information officer for the Will County Health Department. "Keep doing the right things, keep your eye on the prize way down the road."

Officials are urging everyone to get a flu shot, saying it won't just guard against the flu but also reduce the severity of your illness if you do get COVID-19.

During his update, Pritzker also stood firm behind his restrictions on youth sports and pointed to an outbreak last week in Wayne County that has led to 100 players to be quarantined with 37 testing positive.

"This deadly virus should remind us that there are some individual choices that have enormous, life-changing impact on others," Pritzker said.

On Tuesday, the governor said he has sent notice to all cabinet directors to prepare for the possibility of cuts of at least 5% for the current fiscal year, and 10% cuts possibly next year, if the state does not get federal help.

"I can promise you that for everyone and anyone who got into public service, who actually wants to serve the public, this is a nightmare scenario," he said.

Dr. Robert Citronberg of Advocate Aurora Health answers COVID-19 questions, including about possible vaccines.

The comments on the state budget came at a press conference announcing a new round of Business Interruption Grants.

Governor Pritzker said the state would be taking applications for the second round of grants worth a total of $220 million next week.

Pritzker said this amount is four times larger than the first round, which focused on businesses that faced significant shutdowns like gyms and personal care services. The governor said this round would be open for all small businesses, including an emphasis on movie theaters and performing arts centers.

In addition to the Business Interruption Grants, Governor Pritzker announced $25 million to help distressed communities affected by civil unrest over the summer.