CHAMPAIGN – The State of Illinois and Indiana are asking residents to take on new restrictions as cases surge in the Midwest.
For the second day in a row, Illinois announced record-breaking numbers for new COVID cases, previously broken on Tuesday and before that, Saturday, all over 12,000 cases. Wednesday, the state reported 145 new deaths, with 5,042 people hospitalized for the pandemic. Illinois positivity climbed to a record high 12.4% Wednesday.
Illinois officials asked employers to have employees work from home Wednesday for the next three weeks, and residents statewide to limit their trips to essential visits only, including grocery stores and pharmacies. IDPH is now urging residents to avoid group gatherings, including malls, athletic events, crowded retail stores, and church services.
In Indiana, a somber Governor Eric Holcomb pledged to sign Executive Orders applied for 94% of Indiana counties. “We’re in a different time now, we all know now,” Holcomb said of COVID-19 transmission, urging Hoosiers to wear a mask when in public. “We’ve asked a lot, and we’ll be asking you to do a long more as COVID is taking an even greater toll on us.” Wednesday, 94% of all Indiana counties reported seven-day positivity of 10% or more.
New requirements vary for counties in different color zones. Additionally, a statewide mask mandate will be extended another month. Wednesday marked the largest single-day in case totals across Indiana, with daily deaths on the rise.
“Like many states across the Country, we are in the midst of a second surge,” Holcomb explained. “So beginning November 15th and for the next month, I’ll sign an Executive Order that will implement pandemic requirements for all Hoosiers, with target restrictions for counties that are in the orange and red status.”
Indiana lifted nearly all business and crowd size restrictions in late September. The Governor explained the color coated mitigation map to Hoosiers Wednesday, which is now considered very high positivity by Indiana officials. As of Wednesday, over 90% of Indiana’s counties were ranking at 10% positivity or higher in the state.
“You can see that in September, a large majority of counties were blue in Indiana, with low case counts and spread of the virus. This week, no county is blue.” Holcomb said. “In fact, only 5 counties are yellow. Most are orange and nine are now red.”
The Indiana State Department of Health reported 5,156 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, including 31 deaths.
“Our hospitals and health care workforce is being inundated. A number of our hospitals have gone on diversion recently, which means they are sending patients elsewhere. Many other hospitals around the state report delaying scheduled procedures, or repurposing ambulance bays until a bed becomes available,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box Wednesday.
Dr. Box reported Wednesday pandemic fatigue is an increasing reason for cases climbing among Hoosiers.
“In some instances, increase outbreaks are related to congregate settings, and this is driving the change. But the majority of the increase is a result of community spread and pandemic fatigue. We’re hearing people are refusing to wear masks, and some employees are being told to come to work, even when they’re supposed to be in quarantine. And that parents won’t test their children for fear of having to quarantine.”
Indiana hospitals have seen a 200% increase in COVID-19 patients since late September with death averages jumping from 10 per day to 38, near highs set in spring.