Northern Illinois officials are saying the time has come for everyone to take COVID-19 mitigation practices seriously and they are ready to issue fines to stress that point.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference by the Winnebago County Health Department, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara called on all mayors and village presidents in Winnebago County to enforce increased mitigation rules.
The Rockford code enforcement team will enforce the following rules: no indoor dining or social dining, requiring people to follow mask and social distance guidelines at all businesses, and adhering to occupancy limits at retail stores and other businesses.
“We are moving in the wrong direction and moving in the wrong direction quickly,” McNamara said.
The news conference came as Illinois reported 14,612 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, and Wisconsin reported 6,635 new cases as Rock County had two more reported deaths.
McNamara said Rockford officials will be issuing fines of up to $750 a day and will start looking into revoking liquor licenses. In addition to bars and restaurants, code enforcement will be looking at bowling alleys, fitness centers, retailers and offices. Violations will be passed onto state agencies and could result in a business being unable to obtain grant funds.
Local hospitals, he said, are ordering extra beds due to increased COVID-19 cases. The county has a strong supply of PPE for healthcare workers, but are going through it quickly.
He said the responsibility is not only with hospitality businesses. Retailers also need to watch occupancy limits and gyms, fitness centers and houses of worship need to help keep people healthy.
Since Nov. 6 Mercyhealth, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and SwedishAmerican Health System have been working as one system to increase capacity. In that system, 193 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19; 41 are in intensive care units, or 21%, and 27 are on ventilators, or 14%, said Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell.
She said the Winnebago County coroner has requested additional assets to store members of the deceased until there can be advanced directives. Martell said families should have discussions about mechanical ventilation, life support and what funeral or other services would be preferred.
“Make a plan for and with your loved ones, for your pets and for you so your wishes can be respected,” Martell said.
On Thursday, the Rock County Health Department reported 81 new cases of COVID-19 from the previous day and two additional deaths in Rock County, bringing the countywide total to 8,173 cases and 62 deaths.
The health department estimates 55,271 people have tested negative and 5,679 people have recovered. There were 2,432 active cases as of Thursday.
The positivity rate in Rock County was 22% on Thursday and 72 were hospitalized in the county.
Dane County reported 24,519 cases and 71 deaths; Green County reported 1,502 cases and 6 deaths; and Walworth County reported 5,937 cases and 47 deaths, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) data from Thursday shows.
Wisconsin reported 6,635 new cases and 83 additional deaths on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 338,472 cases and 2,876 deaths, DHS reports. As of Thursday, 259,953 people have recovered in the state and DHS believes there are a total of 75,580 active cases in Wisconsin.
On Thursday, Winnebago County Health Department reported 234 new cases of COVID-19 from the previous day and three additional deaths in the county, bringing the countywide total to 16,528 cases and 219 deaths. The seven-day positivity rate in the county was 18.9%.
Boone County reported total 3,365 cases and 29 deaths; DeKalb County reported 4,319 cases and 44 deaths; McHenry County reported 12,194 cases and 137 deaths; Ogle County reported 2.408 cases and 21 deaths; and Stephenson County reported 2,146 cases and 22 deaths, state data shows.
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 14,612 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 168 additional deaths.Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 621,383 cases, including 11,178 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois.