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Illinois COVID-19 cases force entire state into mitigations

November 2, 2020 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — With the entire state scheduled to be under stricter rules regarding social interaction by Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday reported another near-record day for new infections of the coronavirus.

There were 6,222 new cases reported, the fifth-highest total since the pandemic hit Illinois in February — and the four days with higher numbers have all occurred since Thursday.

On Sunday, Pritzker announced that Region 2, which includes the Quad Cities, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Pontiac, would enter “resurgence mitigations” on Wednesday, the last of 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions under the Democrat’s “Restore Illinois” plan to see the restrictions. They include a prohbition on indoor bar and restaurtant service, stopping food and drink orders at 11 p.m., and limiting crowds to 25 people or 25% of room capacity.

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“The virus is spreading, and every region of the state is suffering from its insidious, invisible contagion,” Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

New cases in the past week have averaged 6,359 daily, a 40% increase — 1,800 more per day — from the previous seven days, although the fatality rate has stayed steady at 41.

There were 3,371 patients hospitalized, with 722 in intensive care units and 298 on ventilators, all up one-quarter or more from a week earlier.

With 20 deaths reported Monday, Illinois is closing in on 10,000 fatalities from the coronavirus, with 9,810. There have been 423,502 taken ill.

Continuing to face criticism from business owners forced to close their dining rooms and bars, Pritzker again outlined grant funding available through the state’s Business Interruption Grant program and money for local governments backed by federal relief dollars. Bars and restaurants whose businesses are slowed by resurgence mitigations are eligible for $270 million in the interruption grants.

That’s of little comfort to business owners and Republicans like the lawmakers from Region 3, the central Illinois district that includes Lincoln, Springfield, Jacksonville and Quincy put on mitigations last week.

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“We cannot program ourselves out of this problem,” Rep. Mike Murphy, a Springfield Republican, said last week after he discussed the coming restrictions with local business owners. “They all talked about wanting to get back to work and earning income and providing opportunities for their for their employees. Grants are great short-term, but not one person asked me about the availability of grants.”

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Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor