Suburban Cook County was declared at warning level for COVID-19 on Aug. 28, when the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 30 counties in the state, including suburban Cook County, at risk.
According to the IDPH, when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of the virus increase, a county enters warning level.
In suburban Cook County, which is assessed separately from the city of Chicago, the two measures warranting concern according to the IDPH are new cases per 100,000 and number of deaths.
The target for new cases per 100,000 is less than 50. On Aug. 28, suburban Cook reported 112.
As for number of deaths, the target is a decreasing or stable number. Suburban Cook went from 15 deaths for the week ending Aug. 16 to 25 deaths for the week ending Aug. 23.
In August, the state and county took several measures to attempt to slow the spread of the virus and lower the number of COVID-19-related deaths.
On Aug. 25, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new rule for all of Illinois that requires customers of bars and restaurants to wear a mask during any interaction with employees, whether indoors or outdoors.
“Illinois residents continue to take important steps to protect the safety of our loved ones and neighbors,” Pritzker said in a press release on Aug. 25. “However, due to a recent uptick in cases, we must take additional precautionary steps when we are out in public. Based on conversations and input from industry and business leaders, the state of Illinois is implementing updated guidelines which will allow restaurants and bars across the state to stay open while helping protect the health and safety of patrons and staff.”
On Aug. 11, the state upheld Pritzker’s mandate that businesses can be fined up to $2,500 if employees or customers aren’t wearing masks, a mandate the village of Forest Park has said it will enforce, with warnings and education provided to businesses prior to hefty fines being levied.
Beyond the warnings issued to the 30 counties last week, some regions of Illinois have seen additional restrictions enforced because of high COVID-19 positivity rates. A ban on indoor dining at bars and restaurants is being imposed in Will and Kankakee counties, as the COVID-19 positivity rate in that region passed the threshold of 8 percent for three days in a row, from Aug. 22 to 24.
Region 4 near St. Louis is also seeing additional restrictions, such as earlier closing times for bars and tighter limits on gatherings. Region 4 includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.
Suburban Cook County is Region 10, and while still below the 8 percent positivity rate threshold, the area has seen a steady increase in the COVID-19 positivity, going from 4.1 percent on July 9 to 6.8 percent on Aug. 22.