CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker announced new COVID-19 restrictions for Illinois Region 4, the Metro East area, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state.
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Illinois health officials reported 2,128 new coronavirus cases and 27 additional deaths Wednesday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health now reports a total of 238,643 cases and 8,091 deaths in 102 counties in the state.
A total of 32,751 tests have been processed in the last 24 hours, with health officials saying that a data processing issue is responsible for the lower number of tests reported. The preliminary 7-day positivity rate for August 26-September 1 now stands at 4.5%, the highest since June 8, when the rate was 5.1%.
Nine of Illinois' 11 regions have seen the positivity rate increase in the last two weeks.
"Counties large and small, urban and rural are seeing rising numbers," said Dr. Nicholas Soulakis, of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
As of Tuesday night, 1,596 people in Illinois are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 347 patients in the ICU and 142 patients on ventilators.
Pritzker said Region 4, the Metro East area outside St. Louis, has not made progress in turning things around.
"These are not decisions that I make lightly, nor would I impose if there wasn't evidence of increasing spread of the virus," Governor Pritzker said.
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That region's positivity rate has only gone up more and is now at 9.6%. That's why starting Wednesday, bars and restaurants must stop indoor service. The stricter rules also include an 11 p.m. curfew on outdoor dining.
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Just last week, the same rollback measures were implemented in Region 7, Will and Kankakee counties, because of growing cases there.
Concerns are also heightened on college campuses, including the University of Illinois, where there have been more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases since mid-August.
With Labor Day Weekend coming, Pritzker and health officials urged Illinoisans not to let their guard down.
For many people, holidays are made for get-togethers with family and friends. This year, COVID-19 is complicating plans for celebrating the end of summer. Dana Lach is planning a gathering with family at a lake house in Wisconsin.
"So I am concerned about my parents who are older and don't like to wear masks and are very anti-mask and I'm worried about having a gathering where they're included," Lach said.
Gov. Pritzker and health officials issued a warning about the need for vigilance and safety precautions, including wearing face coverings.
"Even our small, intimate family gatherings must look different than they did before," said Dr. Amaal Tokars, assistance director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Compared to the spring, when congregate settings like nursing homes were hotspots, the current drivers of infections are informal gatherings like backyard barbecues and other friendly get-togethers.
"We're seeing that the majority of community spread now is happening at the neighborhood and family gathering level," said Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force. "The social distancing piece can't just be around people that we don't know. It has to be around people that we do know."
It comes as many regions across the state are seeing an uptick in cases.
"Over the last two weeks, nine of our 11 regions in Illinois have continued to see their positivity rates creep upward, with four seeing more than one full percentage point increase in positivity rate," Pritzker said.
The governor urged caution about Labor Day gatherings, especially large ones where there is lots of eating and drinking and loud talking.
"And we know that much of the spread that's occurring in Illinois is actually happening in these settings," Pritzker said. "They're not public settings, they're often private settings. And people often let down their guard thinking, well, I'm at home, or I'm at someone's home that I know."
The governor also warned that if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, he will not hesitate to re-impose restrictions as he did on the Metro East area.
At his press conference Wednesday afternoon, Pritzker said he and faith leaders would hold a virtual memorial service for those who have died from COVID-19. The service would take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m.