BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS (KMOX) - The positivity rate of coronavirus tests in the Metro East went down slightly in Thursday's report. It came in at 13.8%, a small but important turnaround from recent surges. That decline has been seen the past week across all regions of Illinois, and follows Governor J. B. Pritzker's order to raise pandemic mitigations to Tier 3, which includes ending indoor service for a variety of businesses.
Saint Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern is encouraged, saying Thursday, "By doing this, by wearing these masks you're being part of Team Saint Clair." However, the good news was tempered by Emergency Management Director Herb Simmons announcing a positive test in his own family. "My daughter, who lives in Southern Illinois, works in the healthcare industry and has come down with it." He added, "I wish my dear daughter and her husband the best."
Kern and Simmons said the numbers are still worrisome for area hospitals, which are nearly overrun with COVID-19 patients. Thanksgiving gatherings could erase the gains made since implementation of Tier 3. "It may be too late for some if you had a party early." Said Kern. "But you still have a chance to mitigate... to wear those masks, wash the hands, watch the social distancing."
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday that people who went against the advice, and attended large Thanksgiving gatherings should wait at least a week before being tested for coronavirus. The virus takes about ten days to begin to manifest symptoms, but she advises those who were in high-risk situations should isolate as much as possible, assuming they've been exposed.
Governor Pritzker said when he imposed the Tier 3 mitigation it could be removed before Christmas IF the positivity rate declines sufficiently before then. He called this week's figures "a glimmer of hope." Thursday's report shows further progress, but the coming two weeks could indicate if that will continue.
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