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COVID-19 in Illinois: Cases surge across the state and country, but not at Bradley University

Leslie Renken
lrenken@pjstar.com
The statue of Bradley University founder Lydia Moss Bradley stands Monday, June 29, 2020 adorned with a Class of 2020 mortarboard.

This week in the U.S., new cases of COVID-19 reached 71,000 for the first time since July, and Illinois was among 12 states to set new case records, according to USA Today.

On Thursday, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced new mitigations for northwestern Illinois, which now has a positivity rate of 11.9%.

“We’ve said all along that if things don’t start to turn around after two weeks in Tier 1, we'll add more stringent measures to help get things more open again. That's now the case in Region 1,” said Pritzker.

Since Friday, residents in Region 1 are no longer able to gather in groups larger than 10. When dining out, table capacities have been lowered from 10 to six.

Chicago is also dealing with added restrictions. On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 10 p.m. curfew for all non-essential businesses and also ordered bars without food licenses to shut down indoor service, according to USA Today.

In the Tri-County Area, health officials are so concerned about the upward trend that they reinstated the weekly COVID-19 press conferences, which were discontinued after the last surge in cases waned.

“The decision to return to this platform comes after overall concerns regarding increased positivity and hospitalizations throughout the state,” said Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson on Thursday. “We are trending in the wrong direction.”

Region 2, which contains the Tri-County Area, has seen eight days of positivity increases and three days of increased hospitalizations, said Hendrickson.

The total number of cases in the Tri-County reached 7,595 on Friday, up 713 from last week. Twenty-two more people died this week for a total of 129 deaths since the pandemic began.

Change in CDC guidance expands list of close contacts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed it’s guidance on Wednesday on who is at risk of catching COVID-19 when in contact with an infected individual.

The agency previously said people who have been within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes was considered a close contact and at greater risk of contracting the virus. Now the agency is saying anyone who has spent a total of 15 minutes over 24 hours within 6 feet of an infected individual is considered a close contact.

This change could increase the number of at-risk individuals and have a large impact on schools and workplaces where contact is hard to avoid, according to The Washington Post.

Pop-up testing site in Chillicothe

The State of Illinois is sponsoring a COVID-19 community test site at Shore Acres Park in Chillicothe from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 28-30 for anyone, regardless of symptoms.

Drive-through and walk-up testing will be available. The less-invasive nasal swab test will be used and results will available within 4-7 days at no cost, though individuals with insurance are encouraged to bring their insurance card.

A little good news at Bradley University

Bradley University had a good week on the COVID front: on-campus testing produced only four positive tests this week out of a total of 275 tests administered. Administrators reported a 1.45% positivity rate for the week.

After struggling with rising positivity among its youthful population, university administrators imposed punitive measures for students who didn’t adhere to public health mandates like mask wearing and social distancing.

IDPH will start publishing COVID-19 school data

Eight months into the pandemic and following pleas from educators and parents, Illinois has finally decided it will publish data on the coronavirus’s spread in schools, according to the Chicago Tribune in collaboration with ProPublica Illinois.

On Wednesday, an Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman said the state will start sharing the number of cases and outbreaks by school. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases tied to contact at a school.

“We have been working to publish school-level data on COVID-19 and look forward to having that live in the coming weeks,” spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

The date will be helpful to school administrators when making decisions, like whether or not to continue in-person learning.

Information from the Washington Post, USA today, and the Chicago Tribune was used to compile this report.

Leslie Renken can be reached at 270-8503 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.