CHICAGO (WLS) -- Will and Kankakee counties are allowed to relax COVID-19 restrictions in bars and restaurants starting Friday.
Region 7, which includes the greater Will and Kankakee county areas, will return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan at 5 p.m. Friday.
The region moved to stricter mitigations after three consecutive days of a rolling positivity rate above 8%. As of Friday, Region 7 has reached the threshold to lift mitigations of three consecutive days of a rolling positivity rate below 6.5%, with a rate at 5.6%.
Indoor dining and bar service can resume along with larger gathering sizes in the area.
"Residents chose to be all in for each other, for their small businesses, for their bars and restaurants, for their kids, for their neighbors," Gov. JB Pritzker said. "Let that be a testament to the power of a community that embraces doctor-recommended mitigations proven to reduce risk and slow the spread. We can't outrun this virus, but with the tools we know to work - masks, distancing, handwashing, and respect for public health and each other - we can beat it back enough to keep our businesses open and our neighborhoods safer all at once."
Business owners said the change is coming just in time.
"A lot of joy," said Brandon Wright, co-owner of Werk Force Brewing Company in Plainfield. "Rightaway, texted my wife who's my partner in the business, and we were really excited."
Wright said business has been touch and go since Aug. 26, when bars and restaurants were suddenly restricted to outdoor service only.
The lifting of that rule means the bar's cavernous taproom can reopen, and people can sit indoors just in time for cooler weather and the bar's Oktoberfest celebration this weekend.
"It means whether you survive and stay open or shut your doors," Wright said.
Moving into fall, as gatherings move inside, officials are urging caution whether you're out or having people over.
"We still have thanksgiving coming, we still have the holidays coming. That's going to be a very important time that we avoid large gatherings," said Steve Brandy, public information officer at the Will County Health Department.
IDPH continues to monitor each region in the state for several key indicators to identify early, but significant increases of COVID-19 transmission in Illinois, potentially signifying resurgence. These indicators can be used to determine whether additional community mitigation interventions are needed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Region 4, the Metro East region, which is currently operating under additional mitigations, continues to report a seven-day rolling positivity rate above 8%.
Illinois public health officials announced 2,120 new cases of COVID-19 Friday along with 20 additional deaths.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 270,327 with 8,411 deaths, the IDPH reported.
The preliminary seven-day positivity rate from September 11 - September 17 is 3.6%.
Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 61,918 specimens for a total of 4,982,856.
As of Thursday night, 1,481 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 329 patients in the ICU and 149 patients on ventilators.
The deaths reported Friday include:
- Cook County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 2 females 70s, 1 male 80s
- DeKalb County: 1 infant
- DuPage County: 1 male 40s
- Edgar County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s
- Franklin County: 1 male 50s
- Lake County: 1 male 80s
- McHenry County: 1 male 60s
- St. Clair County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
- Tazewell County: 1 female 30s, 1 female 80s
- Will County: 1 male 70s
- Williamson County: 1 female 80s, 2 females 90s
IDPH Friday reported 24 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for COVID-19.
A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase, according to IDPH.
Twenty-four counties are currently reported at a warning level - Bond, Bureau, Cass, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Edwards, Effingham, Greene, Jasper, Jo Daviess, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Rock Island, St. Clair, Shelby, Washington, Wayne, Williamson, Wabash, and Union.