The rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus remains high in several Downstate counties despite new restrictions placed on public gatherings, according to public health officials.
The “mitigation efforts” were imposed last Tuesday after the Metro East region near St. Louis reported a seven-day average positivity rate of above 8% for three consecutive days. As of Monday, the region’s seven-day positivity rate was 9.4%, down only slightly from the 9.6% reported on Sunday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said increased restrictions were likely coming to the region this week, including the closure of indoor services at bars and restaurants. But officials say that action has been delayed after calls with local politicians.
For now, bars and cannot offer indoor service. For those businesses with outdoor service, tables outdoors are required to be six feet apart, and customers are not allowed to congregate indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting. In addition, meetings, social events and gatherings will be limited to 25 guests or 25% of room capacity.
The same restrictions will go into effect in Will and Kankakee counties on Wednesday after the area reached an 8% positivity rate for COVID-19 over three days. The limits do not apply to schools.
The move comes as the state reported 1,612 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of reported cases to 221,790 and the number of fatalities to 7,888. Health officials say 36,155 tests were conducted, bringing the seven-day testing positivity rate for the entire state to 4.2%
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Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
7 a.m.: Cook County reports prescription delivery delays, says postal changes harming vulnerable population during pandemic
Changes at the U.S. Postal Service resulted in the delayed delivery in July of 5,000 prescriptions filled by Cook County Health’s mail-order pharmacy, according to the county’s chief medical officer.
Dr. Claudia Fegan said the Chicago pharmacy normally fills more than 20,000 prescriptions monthly. She said 23% of those prescriptions were delayed, up from less than 1% in March. She said there were also delays in April and May, reaching 18% in June.
“This is yet another example of the impact that policy changes have on our vulnerable populations,” Fegan said. “They deserve to be able to receive their medication and not have to worry about how they’ll get to the pharmacy during a pandemic to get their medications.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the Postal Service into a central role in the 2020 elections, with tens of millions of people expected to vote by mail rather than in-person.
Representatives of Sinai Health System, University of Chicago Medicine and Amita Health said they haven’t recently seen delays in mail-order prescription delivery. Some health systems’ pharmacies use the postal service, while others use FedEx or UPS. –Associated Press
6:45 a.m.: East Chicago schools cut 90 jobs after state funding for virtual learning slashed
A Northwest Indiana school district has laid off 90 employees because of a reduction in state funding after a move to virtual learning.
The School City of East Chicago school board unanimously approved the staffing cuts in a special session last week. Among those cut were 23 janitors, 18 special education paraprofessionals, 16 security services staff and 13 bus aides.
Superintendent Dee-Etta Wright said the layoffs are intended to be temporary while the district uses virtual learning for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.
The superintendent said union leadership was notified two weeks ago that layoffs would be coming as a means to prepare for potential reductions in the school city’s per pupil funding. A state law ensures only 85% of funding for students receiving half or more of their instruction virtually.
“It is frustrating,” School Board President Vanessa Hernandez-Orange said. “This is people’s livelihoods we’re dealing with.” –Associated Press
6:30 a.m.: KFC scraps use of ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ in its ads amid coronavirus pandemic
Fried chicken chain KFC is suspending the slogan “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” after 64 years because use of the slogan “doesn’t feel quite right.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the steps people can take to protect themselves from spreading COVID-19 is washing hands often, and keeping hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes.
KFC said the slogan will not go away forever. The chain said they will bring it back “when the time is right.” –USA Today
In case you missed it
Here’s five stories from Monday related to COVID-19.
CPS will charge thousands in tuition for virtual prekindergarten this fall — day care not included.
IHSA announces fall sports will be limited to regional geographic competition instead of a state tournament.
Doctors at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Monday began giving vaccination shots to volunteers as part of a clinical trial of one of the new COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
A week after opening for in-person classes, Loyola Academy closes due to COVID-19 cases.
2 Chicago restaurants cited for coronavirus guideline violations.
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