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Watch now: More COVID restrictions expected in Macon County, region

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DECATUR — Macon County and rest of Region 6 are on the verge of the state imposing increased restrictions to prevent the continued spread of coronavirus, local officials warned Tuesday.

"The numbers are not getting better," Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said. "It is very likely, in a week or so, we will be placed in Tier One."

Moore Wolfe made the comment in response to questions about a "Business Alert" on city of Decatur letterhead from her and Macon County Board Chairman Kevin Greenfield. The letter was distributed by the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Macon County Health Department issued a warning letter of its own Tuesday evening.

Tier One Mitigation brings with it restrictions on business and activities. Possible mitigation measures could include, but are not limited to: reduced indoor dining capacity and suspended bar service in bars and restaurants; additional limits on social gatherings and room capacity; remote work implementation for employers; and reduced indoor capacity in retail and recreational establishments.

Macon County is currently on a heightened warning level — orange — because it surpasses multiple metrics the state uses to track increased occurrences of coronavirus.  Locally, those metrics include the county's recent spike in positive cases and deaths.

In the letter to the business community, Moore Wolfe and Greenfield cited a host of activities that can contribute to the spread, such as large gatherings of all types, frequenting crowded facilities, refusal to wear a mask and employees going to work with symptoms misdiagnosed as allergies or a head cold.

"What we can do in Macon County is do everything possible to make our numbers better," Moore Wolfe said. "It's going to take more than a few days to fix it."

On Tuesday, Macon County health officials reported 37 new positive case. That brings the county's total to 1,603. Of those, 1,002 residents have been released from isolation, 548 remain in home isolation, seven are hospitalized and 46 have died.

On Tuesday, the Coles County Health Department reported another coronavirus-related death, bringing the county's total to 31. Officials also reported 19 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's total to 1,546.

Elsewhere in the region, Cumberland County reported seven new COVID-19 cases since Friday; Moultrie County reported its fourth coronavirus-related death; and Shelby County reported five additional residents have tested positive. 

All four counties are in the same region as Macon County. Other area counties in the region are Effingham, Fayette, Shelby, Piatt, Douglas and Moultrie.

The region's positivity rate was 7.3% as of Sept. 26. That number is dramatically higher than it has been reported in the past because of the removal of Champaign County from the regional tally. Officials said testing being done at the University of Illinois kept the positivity numbers down, thus providing an inaccurate status of the entire region. 

"We want to get out of Tier One as fast as we possibly can," Moore Wolfe said. "Our businesses can't take another hit."

Statewide on Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced another 1,362 cases of the virus and 23 more deaths in COVID-19-positive individuals.

The death total is now at 8,637 in Illinois, and there have been 291,001 confirmed cases among more than 5.5 million test results reported. There were 45,624 test results reported over the previous 24 hours, making for a one-day positivity rate of 3%, which brought the rolling seven-day average rate to 3.6 percent.

At the end of the day Monday, there were 1,535 people reported hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 363 in intensive care unit beds and 151 on ventilators. Those numbers fluctuate considerably daily but have been trending slightly upward in recent weeks.

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


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