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Illinois coronavirus: Cook County to announce stricter COVID-19 guidelines Friday

By Diane Pathieu, ABC7 News

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and health officials confirm that stricter guidelines, similar to Chicago, will be announced Friday to address increasing COVID-19 numbers throughout the county.

But details about the guidelines had not yet been released early Friday morning.

“I’m frankly in discussions with our Department of Public Health folks about the guidelines that will be issued tomorrow. I don’t have any comment on the particulars today,” said Preckwinkle during a phone conference call.

Cook County is also identified as Region 10 on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website that tracks COVID-19 metrics. As of Thursday, positivity rates continued to climb in Region 10, triggering concern and guidelines that are expected to go into effect this weekend.

Cook County health officials will only say the stricter guidelines will be similar to Chicago, where there have been more restrictions on bars, restaurants and fitness centers.
“It would be fair to say that I think we’re looking at some of those, some of those same kinds of measures,” said Demian Christiansen, Cook County’s director of communicable disease control and prevention. “We obviously don’t want it to get out of control, like we’ve seen in some other areas. We definitely want to put a lid on as much of this as possible.”

Niles restaurant owner Randy Famacion just rehired his staff after COVID-19 restrictions forced him to cut back. Now he’s back in uncharted waters.

“And now, it’s like we’re in limbo. So we don’t know what to do,” he said. “It’s scary again. It hurts economically. It hurts especially with our employees and it hurts our business.”

Region 10 stretches from Glencoe and Northbrook up north, all the way south to Richton Park and Chicago Heights.

As of Thursday, Cook County’s positivity rate is 5.6%, and has increased for nine days straight. Hospital admissions have increased for four days straight, as well. If hospital admissions continue to rise the next three days, it could trigger state action.

“Cook County and the city of Chicago both have a serious problem,” Gov. JB Pritzker said. “I mean, look, every region has increasing positivity rates and increasing cases. This is hugely problematic. It’s not something we wanted to see happen, but it means we’re going to have to take a hard look at what we need to do, what mitigations we need now in order to get us back in line in the direction where we were going, which was reducing those positivity rates.”

Cook County health officials plan to announce the stricter guidelines Friday, and have them in place for the weekend.

Health officials say they don’t want another nice weekend going by with young people socializing and the possibility of COVID-19 cases rising.

This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.

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