(TNS) — A new mitigation plan to combat a resurgence of coronavirus cases was announced Wednesday morning by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
A continued emphasis on personal efforts, hand-washing, sanitizing and social distancing is being combined with possible state action and more localized mitigation efforts.
This comes as Madison County has seen increased numbers of cases, particularly since breaking the record for case numbers Saturday, tying that on Sunday, then breaking that record again Monday.
“This is not political, it’s just about caring for the community and the people you love,” Pritzker said during a press conference Wednesday. The state is now in phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, and while officials have always said a resurgence could move the plan backward, officials said they are looking at more focused responses to more localized outbreaks.
Pritzker said the resurgence plan recognizes the state is “in its strongest position to combat the virus” since the start of the pandemic. He cited a “robust testing operation,” expanded contact tracing and other factors.
He also noted that the state has lower hospital and infection rates than many states, including most of the surrounding ones.
“Illinois now has the lowest infection rates among all our neighboring states and one of the lowest positivity rates in the country — and it’s because of the individual actions of millions of our residents,” Pritzker said. “Opening up our economy does not have to come with a spike in cases.
“Other countries have done it successfully, while reducing cases and infection rates,” he continued. “But that requires vigilance on the part of all of us.
“It’s imperative that individuals, families, workers and businesses follow the recommendations doctors have given about vital mitigations and that we act quickly if we see any outbreaks and upticks, signs that could lead to a surge of coronavirus infections.”
The three-tiered plan includes establishing metrics and mitigations to determine where resurgences are occurring, and how to deal with them effectively, emphasizing action in smaller regions to help focus mitigation efforts, and increased emphasis on COVID-19 testing and tracing.
Madison County will be a part of the “Metro East region,” which also includes St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Monroe and Randolph counties.
Calhoun, Greene, Jersey and Macoupin counties will be in the “West-Central region.”
The original Restore Illinois plan was criticized because many considered the regions to be too large, and not reflect local conditions.
More details about the regions and the plan will be available at www.coronavirus.illinois.gov.
“This plan ensures we are looking at all available data to make timely decisions to protect the health of our communities,” Ezike said.
“By assessing key metrics that indicate both the disease burden, and the capacity of each COVID-19 region to respond, we can then take targeted actions within specific regions to help mitigate the spread of this deadly disease, while keeping as much of our state open as possible.”
The issue of whether schools will be able to reopen also was talked about extensively. Ultimately, much of that depends on whether people continue to follow protoc0ls, Ezike said.
“Our actions today will determine what school looks like,” she said,
She noted those actions will absolutely include masking and social distancing.
Locally, the Madison County Health Department reported a total of 43 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 1,318 cases and 71 deaths. The number of cases is two shy of the record — set Monday.
Statewide there were 1,187 new cases and eight deaths reported.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, there now are 156,693 cases statewide and 7,226 deaths. In the past 24 hours, 38,161 tests have been completed, for a statewide total of 2,079,601.
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from July 8–July 14 is 3.1 percent. That percentage has been increasing gradually statewide over the past week, but is still far below the peak levels of April and May.
As of late Wednesday, 1,454 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 324 patients were in the ICU and 130 patients were on ventilators.
The Madison County figures include 677 people released, meaning they have completed isolation. A total of 25,356 tests have been completed in the county.
Information by ZIP code shows additional cases in the Godfrey, Brighton, Jerseyville, Cottage Hills, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Troy, Granite City/Pontoon Beach, Collinsville, Madison, Highland, Staunton and Litchfield areas. New cases also are being reported for the first time in the Roxana (62084) and Bunker Hill (62014) areas for the first time, with six cases each.
The IDPH is releasing case numbers by ZIP code for areas with more than five cases. Numbers are not released in ZIP codes with fewer cases to protect the privacy of patients.
The information is available at the IDPH website www.dph.illinois.gov. Click on the coronavirus banner, then COVID-19 statistics in the drop-down menu on the left side.
Additional cases also have been reported in Jersey, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, St. Clair, Clinton, Bond, Monroe and Washington counties. Additional deaths were reported in Montgomery and Clinton counties, while in Bond County both the number of cases and deaths went down by one, to 21 cases and one death.
©2020 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.