COOK COUNTY, Ill. – Cook County Public Health officials warn residents that additional restrictions on coronavirus may return in a matter of days, as the number of cases and other key measures continues to rise.
The threat could mean that restaurants in the city and suburbs will again cope with reduced capacity and constraints. A decision on new restrictions is expected in the coming days.
Business owner Pat Fowler told WGN that Sunday is customary for his popular Evanston restaurant, Firehouse Grill. A 60-degree sunny day brought a steady stream of customers to the courtyard.
“We were completely full outside all day, so it was great and people are excited to go out,”
But just as restaurants and businesses in Illinois are abandoning months of restrictions amid a growing number of people being vaccinated, health officials are warning of a possible “third wave” of COVID-19.
The possibility is alarming for Fowler.
“It’s always frustrating to hear that more restrictions can be placed on us, but for us, the health and safety of our employees and our customers is most important to me,” Fowler said. “So if this is what we need to do to end this pandemic, we are more than happy to do it.”
Dr. Rachel Rubin of Cook County’s Public Health Department insists the decision on restrictions is still a “matter of days,” but says she is watching what she calls “related to the increase in COVID-19 cases.”
Public health statistics show that the suburban county of Cook registered nearly 500 new cases a day in the last week. Nearly 80 percent of Cooker County residents aged 65 or over have been vaccinated with at least one shot. Dr. Rubin attributes the jump to younger people, mostly in their 20s and 30s.
Recent data show that the degree of positivity across the country is around 5%. The number that caused suspensions and restrictions last fall was 8%.
In Illinois, just under 19% of the population is vaccinated.
“We may have to get there in a few days,” Dr. Rubin said. “I do not promise this in one way or another. We need to assess what kind of activities and movements we think really drive this leap. “
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