Increase in COVID-19 positivity rates causes Region 5 to enact stronger mitigation measures

By Kallie Cox, Editor-in-Chief

Starting Thursday Region 5, which includes most of southern Illinois, will increase COVID-19 precautions, including the temporary closure of indoor dining and a ban on gatherings of 25 or more people. 

The region has maintained a sustained positivity rate above 8% and now sits at a rolling positivity rate of 9.1%  according to Gov. JB Pritzker. 

“Nearly every region in the state has seen an increase in COVID related hospitalizations over the last week,” Pritzker said during his visit to Murphysboro Ill. on Monday. “Thursday we set a record high of cases identified in one day and then we beat that record on Friday.”


Pritzker said Illinois’ new surge of cases takes place on a national landscape of increasing positivity rates and Illinois’ border states, Indiana and Missouri, have been called out as national hot spots.

“We can’t wall off Illinois from the surge, but we can take extra precautions and do better than others at following the mitigations that slow the spread,” Pritzker said. “Ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths, public health recommendations will bring our numbers down and save our economy and let more of our kids go to school.”

Pritzker said experts have predicted the possibility of a new wave of COVID-19 due to the cold weather and more indoor activities, he said it looks like this new wave is upon the state of Illinois.

“If you are getting tired and you’ve let your guard down now is the time to pick it back up again,” Pritzker said. “Things are getting worse, now is the time to wear a mask wherever you go, get your flu shot, forgo unnecessary trips or gatherings and take extra care to stay six feet away from each other especially in public.”

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said today the state is reporting 3,113 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 347,161 confirmed cases and 22 additional lives lost for 9,236 total deaths.

“Every week we report dozens of COVID-19 deaths here in Illinois,” Ezike said. “Yes the majority of these individuals are over 70 years of age, but every week we are also reporting the deaths of individuals who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. This is not a virus that only attacks older individuals or only attacks individuals with chronic health conditions, younger people are getting affected, they are getting infected and they are also dying.”

 Pritzker said he will once again be holding daily COVID-19 updates. 


Dustin Clark | @dustinclark.oof

Dr. Craig Davis, a doctor with the Southern Illinois Healthcare system, said in recent weeks, he and his colleagues have watched admissions to their COVID-19 units triple.

“My colleagues and I have witnessed the agony of our patient’s families as they wait for news of recovery and the devastation they feel when their loved ones succumbed to the virus,” Davis said. 

Davis said it is time to look inwards.

“What remains most alarming to me as a physician and father, is the complacency I see in some of our community members and the polarization over some simple prevention methods, especially surrounding masks and social distancing,” Davis said.

Davis said he urges everyone to stay the course and to continue to take precautions against the virus, despite the mental, physical and emotional fatigue everyone is facing.

“COVID is a healthcare crisis. We are losing family members, friends and neighbors to it and my appeal to each of you is simple and straightforward,” Davis said. “Wear a mask, pause large gatherings, practice social distancing, wash your hands often, consider all of these short term sacrifices for the long term greater good. The enemy is disease, not each other.”

Editor-in-Chief Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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