State takes action as Metro East region’s positive COVID-19 rates soar

Chronicle Media

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) say new COVID-19 mitigation efforts that will be implemented in the Metro East area beginning Tuesday, Aug. 18.

That area, designate as Region 4 in the state recovery plan, is reporting three consecutive days of a test positivity rate of 8 percent or higher, triggering implementation of mitigation efforts as outlined in the state’s COVID-19 Mitigation Plan.

The new mitigation measures were developed in close coordination with local public health administrators and county officials and account for the unique characteristics of the region, according to a release from Pritzker’s office on Sunday, Aug. 16.

“Region 4 of our statewide 11 reopening regions – the Metro East – has now surpassed an 8 percent seven-day rolling average positivity rate – a trend that I have made clear would trigger stricter mitigations when this plan was announced in July,” the release stated. “Working with local officials in the Metro East region and across the border in St. Louis, we are implementing stricter mitigations that account for the unique factors in this region. (IDPH Director) Dr. Ezike and I are imploring local leaders and residents alike: if you haven’t been taking this seriously yet, now is the time to start.”

Measures include the closing of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11 p.m., the closing of party buses and the reduction of gathering sizes to the lesser of 25 people or 25 percent of room capacity.

These measures will remain in effect over a 14-day period after which time more stringent mitigation measures, such as the closing of indoor bars and dining, can be implemented if metrics do not improve.

“As we warned when we began reopening Illinois, we are seeing an increase in cases, emergency department visits, and other indicators that the virus is circulating more widely in the community,” said Ezike.


For Region 4, mitigation include the following:

  • Meetings, social events, and other gatherings are now limited to the lesser of 25 individuals or 25 percent of overall room capacity
  • All bars, restaurants, gaming facilities, and casinos will close at 11 pm, matching the newly imposed closing times for St. Louis
  • All reception halls closed
  • Party buses not allowed to operate
  • Reservations required for each party at restaurants and bars, and no congregating indoors or outdoors
  • Indoor tables reduced to six people or less
  • No dancing indoors
  • Removal of bar stools at bars to help prevent congregating
  • Tables should continue to be six feet apart

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have made it clear that neither arbitrary dates on a calendar nor political pressure will dictate Illinois’ efforts to protect our people. If the data shows we need to go backwards in our reopening, I won’t hesitate to tighten restrictions to protect our collective health,” said Pritzker