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Peoria Region Exceeds 8% COVID Positivity Threshold For 1st Time

Emily Bollinger/WCBU

For the first time since the state began slowly reopening, Region 2's seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is exceeding 8%.

That's significant because three days with a rolling positivity rate of 8% or more automatically triggers new restrictions on bars, restaurants, and gatherings, under Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan.

Region 2 includes Peoria, Pekin, Canton, Bloomington-Normal, Macomb, Galesburg, and Rock Island areas. The 7-day positivity rate in Region 2 was 8.5%, as of Friday.

Two more consecutive days of COVID cases surging above the 8% threshold could result in an announcement of additional restrictions as soon as Sunday. Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson warned Thursday that additional restrictions in this part of central Illinois are an "eventuality" as virus rates spike nationwide.

Every other region of the state is awaiting or already under those heftier mitigation measures as COVID-19 positivity rates soar statewide. The tightest restrictions are implemented in northwestern Illinois' Region 1, where positivity rates still exceed 13% after weeks of new mitigations.

The state set a new one-day COVID-19 record for the third consecutive day on Friday, with 6,943 new cases identified in the past 24 hours.

The most controversial mitigations imposed statewide are bans on indoor bar and restaurant service in an effort to tamp down on the virus' spread as the weather turns chillier. Many proprietors of such establishments are pushing back, or outright defying, those restrictions in other parts of the state.

In some cases, Illinois State Police troopers have been dispatched to enforce the governor's orders. 

The Tri-County region of Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties reported 125 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and one new death--a Tazewell County man in his 60s. That brings the area's death toll to 148 since the pandemic first struck central Illinois in early March. Deaths have accelerated since September, with the area now posting an average of two new COVID-related deaths each day.

Ninety-one people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases are currently hospitalized in one of the Peoria area's four major hospitals.

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