Wilmette, Community

Indoor dining halted in suburban Cook County as COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations rise across the state

Local restaurants and bars will no longer be allowed to seat patrons indoors starting Wednesday, Oct. 28, according to a Monday announcement from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The new “resurgence mitigation measures” will be implemented in all of suburban Cook County, according to a press release from the state. The news comes as the state faces a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Josh Schonfeld — the director of operations and managing partner of the restaurant group that owns Napolita Pizzeria and Pescadero Oyster and Wine Bar, both in Wilmette — said unfortunately, the writing was on the wall.

“Obviously, I’m not thrilled about it, but I saw it coming with the recent uptick in cases in surrounding areas,” he said. “If this is what we need to do to get things back to normal, then obviously we’ll do what we have to do to be compliant.

“We don’t want this thing to drag on forever and ever.”

Illinois’ Region 10, which is suburban Cook County, including New Trier Township, has recorded eight consecutive days of increases in COVID-test positivity and seven days of increased COVID-related hospital admissions, making it the first region in the state to meet the metrics for additional mitigation measures, state officials say.

Region 10’s seven-day rolling COVD-test positivity average has gone from 6.5 percent on Oct. 14 to 7.7 percent on Oct. 23. In that same stretch, its COVID-19-related hospitalizations have gone from 32 to 50.

The daily positivity rate, however, has decreased from its recent peak of 8.5 percent on Oct. 19 to 6.3 on Oct. 23.

“We are seeing test positivity across the state increase, but for Region 10, suburban Cook County, we are also seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations for COVID-like illness,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, IDPH director, says in the release.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were concerned about overwhelming our hospitals and we must take action now to prevent that possibility. We are entering flu season and our hospitals are facing both COVID-19 and flu admissions. The same things that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 will help prevent the spread of flu. Please, wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear your mask. And make sure to get your flu shot.”

The additional safety precautions make Region 10 the sixth of 11 Illinois regions to move backward into “resurgence framework,” Pritzker said in the release.

According to the release, the measures can be lifted once the area sees sustained improvement in its metrics. The release says for that to happen, Region 10 must average a 6.5 percent positivity rate or lower and see a decrease in COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

The availability of hospital beds is also a factor; however, Region 10 is still above the threshold of 20 percent in both ICU (32%) and surgical (26% beds).

On the other hand, more severe protocol may be implemented if the region’s metrics continue to increase.

Mitigation measures starting Wednesday in New Trier Township, according to the state, are as follows:

Bars
• No indoor service
• All outside bar service closes at 11 p.m.
• All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
• No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
• Tables should be 6 feet apart
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• No dancing or standing indoors
• Reservations required for each party
• No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants
• No indoor dining or bar service
• All outdoor dining closes at 11 p.m.
• Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• Reservations required for each party
• No seating of multiple parties at one table

A full list of mitigation measures can be found at dceocovid19resources.com/restore-illinois.

Staff

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