Jo Daviess County subject to new COVID-19 restrictions beginning Saturday

GALENA, Ill. — Jo Daviess County and other counties in its region will be placed under new COVID-19 restrictions beginning Saturday, Oct. 3.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced this afternoon that the nine-county region has experienced a seven-day positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days, meeting a threshold set for establishing mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

Under the restrictions, bars and restaurants must close by 11 p.m. and cannot open earlier than 6 a.m. the following day. No indoor dining or bar service can be offered.

Meetings and social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, are limited to the lesser of 25 guests or 25% of room capacity. Those events include weddings and funerals.

The state restrictions will be lifted when the region’s positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% over a three-day period, according to state guidelines.

Republican Illinois Sens. Brian Stewart and Dave Syverson, both of whom represent portions of the region, criticized the move by the state.

“With the region reporting zero deaths in the last 10 days and with our hospital ICU vacancy rates at over 50 percent, any talk of business closure is unwarranted and wrong,” they said in a press release. “The safety and well-being of the citizens of this state should always be our biggest priority; however, as we saw months ago, these arbitrary mitigations measures are not the answer to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By shutting down our businesses and limiting their ability to operate, Governor Pritzker is doing lasting damage to our economy.”

Republican Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, whose district includes Jo Daviess County, stated on social media: “Local health departments confirm that there has been no evidence from contact tracing to link the rise in COVID cases to bars (and) restaurants- NONE! Politics over science! Pritzker placing East Dubuque in the same region as Rockford is just crazy. That’s an hour-and-45-minute drive.”