Coronavirus cases continue to rise; State reports unemployment decline

Department of Public Health warning of significant increase in coronavirus cases

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported late last week that of the more than 7 million coronavirus tests conducted, slightly more than 5% have come back positive statewide. In total there have been more than 360,000 confirmed cases reported.

There have been two days recently, October 16 and October 22, on which there were more than 4500 new positive cases reported. There were 4,554 positive tests on October 16 and 4,942 on October 22. Both of these were new records for a 24-hour period in Illinois. Of these, many were not severe, but some required hospitalization. In total, more than 9,300 Illinoisans have died from COVID-19.

More regions of the state moved into ‘enhanced mitigation’ due to rise in cases

Three more regions of the state were recently moved to enhanced mitigation status late last week, and two more regions were moved back yesterday. Enhanced mitigation means that additional restrictions were imposed on that area to stop the spread. Region 5, which encompasses the southernmost part of the state and two regions covering the Chicago suburbs saw these added restrictions last week. Yesterday a third region of the suburbs and a group of counties in southwestern Illinois were added. Another area, Region 1 in northwestern Illinois, was already under the enhanced mitigation, but had to take another step backwards as cases continued to rise and more restrictions had to be imposed.

The two regions covering our area have not yet seen any additional mitigation measures put in place, but this week Ford and Vermilion Counties are among the 51 Illinois counties currently at a warning level for high numbers of new cases. Livingston and Woodford Counties are in Region 2, while Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties are in Region 6.

This significant increase reminds everyone that we must continue to take action to protect ourselves and each other from the virus. Keep social distancing and washing your hands. Wear a face covering when you cannot social distance, and stay away from crowded places as much as possible.

Unemployment declined in September

The state’s unemployment rate dropped below 10% in September according to numbers released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The figures showed Illinois improving to a 9.8% unemployment rate in September. One year ago, before the pandemic and the shutdown, Illinois’ unemployment rate was around 4%.

The highest unemployment rate in the state was found in the Chicago area, which stood at 11.3% in September. The metro regions in our area reported better numbers. The Champaign-Urban area came in at 7.0% unemployment and the Bloomington-Normal area posted a figure of 6.3%.

Local CURE webinar for local governments

I am hosting a webinar with State Senators Chapin Rose and Scott Bennett and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. for municipalities, counties, public health departments and special taxing districts eligible to receive reimbursements for their COVID-19 costs. A total of $250 million is available for local governments through the Local CURE program. To join the webinar, please click here.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health includes another death in Vermilion and Woodford counties

More Illinois regions could soon face restrictions amid surge in cases

2 Ford County residents with COVID die, 4062 cases added statewide Sunday

Small Business Development Center hosting PPP loan forgiveness webinar at 10 a.m. Friday

Department of Healthcare and Family Services calls for applications for CARES payments

Conservation Police warn hunters to avoid baiting violations in fields damaged by fire

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).