I just received word that heightened mitigation strategies are expected to take effect in McHenry and Lake Counties (IL Region 9) on Saturday, Oct. 31. During the mitigation period, which will last a minimum of two weeks, restaurants and bars will be closed for indoor seating, and public gatherings will have reduced capacity limits. The new measures are being implemented as a result of a recent spike in local cases of COVID-19 and recent increases in hospitalizations.
I participated in a conference call this morning with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and elected officials from Lake and McHenry Counties. During the call, a request was made for detailed metrics that are being used to trigger mitigations. This data request has been made many times. We’ll see if it is provided this time.
IDPH has a system of metrics in place that trigger heightened mitigations. They are:
- A sustained increase in 7-day rolling average (7 out of 10 days) in the positivity rate, AND one of the following
- Sustained 7-day increase (7 out of 10 days) in hospital admissions for a COVID-19-like illness; or
- Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities (ICU capacity or medical/surgical beds under 20%)
- Three consecutive days averaging greater than or equal to 8% positivity rate (7 day rolling average)
According to the IDPH web site, as of today (October 28, 2020), McHenry and Lake Counties which compose “Region 9” of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan, posted three consecutive days of a positivity rate greater than 8% (8.1%, 8.4%, 8.4%).
Tier I mitigations that are expected to take effect on Saturday morning are:
Bars and restaurants
- All bars and restaurants close at 11pm and may reopen no earlier than 6am the following day
- No indoor service
- All bar and restaurant patrons must be seated at tables outside
- No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
- Tables should be 6 feet apart
- No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
- No dancing or standing indoors
- Reservations required for each party
- No seating of multiple parties at one table
Meetings, social events and gatherings (including weddings, funerals, potlucks, etc.)
- Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25% of overall room capacity both indoors and outdoors
- No party buses
The Illinois State Police is charged with enforcing the restrictions. Decisions regarding schools will still be made at the local level.
Heightened mitigations will remain in place until the positivity rate for the region is 6.5% or lower for three consecutive days. You can follow the tracking of COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalization numbers at this link. Again, we are Region 9.
None of us are pleased with these restrictions, and I’m extremely worried about the individuals who work in the restaurant/bar/hospitality industry who will once again find themselves in need of unemployment benefits. I’m also concerned about the economic impact that these restrictions will have on our area, just as we are now beginning to recover.
These mitigations will remain in place until our positivity and hospitalization numbers are brought back within acceptable levels, so it is up to all of us to take serious steps to help make that happen. Please:
- Wear a mask whenever you are in public
- Practice social distancing at all times
- Wash your hands frequently
- Use hand sanitizer frequently
- Avoid gathering in groups outside of your family
If we all take these steps to lower our COVID-19 metrics, our businesses will be able to fully open again sooner.