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St. Clair County on the verge of rolling back a phase as regional COVID stats rise

These are the current metrics for Region 4, which includes St. Clair County, as shared by IDPH on July 21. (Photo from dph.illinois.gov)

By Angela Simmons, Weekly Reporter

Governor JB Pritzker recently redrew the regional boundaries for keeping track of COVID-19 statistics, and Region 4, which includes St. Clair County and much of the Metro East, is in danger of rolling back a phase.

The Illinois Department of Public health released a statement about Region 4, stating “The Illinois Department of Public Health is closely monitoring a rise in cases in the Metro East region, COVID-19 region 4, as the region surpasses 7 percent positivity rate as of today, July 20, fueled by seven consecutive days of positivity rate increases. Under the plan to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 announced by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health last week, a region will automatically move to the first tier of mitigation steps following three consecutive days averaging greater than an eight percent positivity rate.

Randolph and St. Clair counties are currently the primary contributors to the rise in positivity rate in region 4 of the new mitigation plan, but there are concerning trends and behaviors throughout the region, which also includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, and Washington counties. Several of these counties also border and are home to residents who travel frequently to Missouri where less stringent mitigations have been in place.”

The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency has gone back to holding daily news briefings via livestream on their Facebook page after the county statistics have spiked in the last two weeks. St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern stated during the Tuesday broadcast that much of the spike has been tied to Fourth of July events where social distancing wasn’t observed.

“Businesses that disregard public health guidance are putting themselves and their communities at risk and threatening the progress we’ve made for the vast majority of businesses that are safely reopening,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I urge county and local officials in the Metro East region to take action in response to those who refuse to help keep people safe and to consider broader mitigations before the state is required to take action. As I’ve said, local officials are our first line of defense when it comes to concerning trends in their communities, but IDPH is ready to take immediate action if the data requires it.”

“This virus is still out there and it is the responsibility of all of us, local officials, businesses, and every day Illinoisans, to take the actions we know will keep people safe,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We know from the data that large gatherings and groups of people in confined closed spaces can lead to a spike in cases, and we have seen some examples popping up right now. IDPH will work closely with our local health department partners to respond to these concerning trends and will not hesitate to restore mitigations to prevent a full resurgence of COVID-19.”

St. Clair County now has 3,318 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 28,020 residents that have been tested. Kern noted that 10 percent of the county has been tested so far. In the past 24 hour hours, the St. Clair County Health Department recorded 43 new cases out of 628 tested residents, and one new death- a female in her 70s with unknown health conditions. There are 37 COVID patients in St. Clair County hospitals, with zero patients on ventilators.

The largest increases in the past week have been among individuals in their 20s, with 39 new cases being recorded over the past three days.

The county broadcast team is encouraging everyone to be #TeamStClair, which means following the three W’s- Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance and stay six feet away from others.

IDPH noted that under the new mitigation plan announced last week, additional mitigation steps will be reinstated in a region following a sustained rise in the positivity rate along with either a sustained increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions or a critical reduction in hospital bed capacity. A sustained rise in the positivity rate is defined as an increase in the 7-day rolling average for seven days out of a 10-day period. In addition, if a region hits three consecutive days of an eight percent average positivity rate, automatic action will be required.

The first tier of mitigation steps can include suspending indoor bar service, reducing indoor dining capacity, reducing elective surgeries and procedures, placing additional limits on gatherings and room capacity, expanding remote work, as well as potential further mitigation steps relating to recreational activities, retail, and salon and personal care based on data received.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 163,703 cases, including 7,324 deaths, in 102 counties. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 29,745 specimens for a total of 2,308,854. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from July 14 – July 20 is 3.1 percent, with Region 4 being more than double the statewide positivity rate.

As of last night, 1,466 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 320 patients were in the ICU and 142 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Several retailers have announced mandatory mask-wearing policies to help combat the virus, including Target and Walmart.

The Weekly will continue to monitor the possibility of a roll back, and will share that information as soon as it becomes available.

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