CHICAGO (CBS) — Even with mass vaccinations efforts underway, the head of Cook County’s health department said COVID case numbers are on the rise, especially among younger populations.

There’s been a huge jump in COVID-19 case numbers across Illinois with 3,790 in the past 24 hours. To put that number into perspective, January 29 was the last time there were numbers that high.

READ MORE: City Was Warned About Thousands of Corroding Light Poles But Failed to Fix Many, CBS 2 Investigation Finds

CBS 2’s Tara Molina reports cases in Norridge are up more than 200%, according to the Cook County Department Of Public Health. Berkeley and Lynwood are two others seeing major increases.

Local business owners said they’re worried it will mean new restrictions soon.

Doctor Rachel Rubin, Senior Medical Officer with the Cook County Department of Public Health, said people should not be congregating indoors and be outdoors for dining and other events.

“Our 20s and 30 year olds and somewhat 40 year olds that are the ones that are testing positive,” Rubin said. “Folks are, as we know, the ones that are more likely to be out and about and maybe being a little bit less observant of the guidance.”

“Restrictions were recently changed to allow additional diners in restaurants and bars, as well as increased numbers allowed for indoor gatherings,” Rubin said. “We are considering tightening up the required mitigations again if this trend continues, but are not taking such actions now.

She added “they are driving this pandemic right now. However it doesn’t mean that other groupings, other than our older seniors, are not also seeing rises because younger people will transmit to their older family or friends.”

Rubin said mask wearing is part of the mitigation effort.

“(And) reinforcing the need for all over two years of age who can medically tolerate wearing masks to do so in public places,” she added.

Chocolate donuts, Italian pastries and breads have been drawing Norridge into Allegretti’s family-owned bakery since 1962. But the pandemic made business a little less sweet.

“We were very slow,” Allegretti said, but they’re now making a comeback.

“We’re just trying to do our best.”

The news of an uptick in COVID cases here…with 46 cases reported last week in a town with less than 15,000…it’s a 204% increase here in Norridge, according to Cook County Public Health.

“I’m honestly shocked for a small community, I did not know about this,” Allegretti said.

The head of Cook County’s health department said as in other areas, vaccination efforts are increasing. But it doesn’t mean everyone is safe from COVID-19.

READ MORE: Man Shot, Critically Wounded On Huron Street In River North Near Mag Mile

“We are making great progress in vaccinating our 2.5 million residents but if the trends continue in the wrong direction we will not hesitate to tighten restrictions on gatherings, indoors or outdoors,” Rubin said. “We ask for and continue to thank everyone for their patience as we move through the phases of vaccinations.

In the past two weeks, cases are up 200% or more in Norridge, Robbins, Harvey, Glencoe, Riverside, Berkeley, and Lynwood.

  • Robbins +200 (percent)
  • Norridge +204
  • Harvey +211
  • Glencoe + 250
  • Riverside + 312
  • Berkeley +400
  • Lynnwood +520

“We’re inching in that direction.”

The leading doctors at the Cook County Public Health Department said with a continued rise in cases, they’re not recommending stricter rules yet, but they could if this trend continues. Starting with lowered capacity limits in restaurants and bars.

“We might go to 40% in those situations, Rubin said. “We might decrease occupancy in retail. We might decrease the maximum allowed at large events.”

And a message from bakery business, already taking safety seriously.

“We’re going to take more precautions now,” Allegretti said.

 

Last month, the Cook County Department of Public Health issued COVID-19 Mitigation Order 2021-6. It eased some mitigation measures but continued the health department’s “cautious approach to reopening in suburban Cook County.

Mitigation Order 2021-6, increased the following capacity limits: 

  • Outdoor dining party size increase from 6 to 10 
  • Outdoor fitness classes increase from 50 to 100 people 
  • Indoor fitness classes increase from 20 people to the lesser of 50% capacity or 50 people, as long as class participants can maintain a distance of six feet and wear face coverings at all times
  • Outdoor Meetings/social events increase from 50%/50 people to 50%/100
  • Outdoor recreation/outdoor activities increase from group size 50, max in one space 100 to group size 50, multiple groups allowed
  • Seated spectator events – outdoor venues with  capacity 200 are limited to 25% capacity
  • Amusement parks limited to 25% capacity 

Additionally,  Mitigation Order 2021-6 states that all people count in calculating capacity limits – whether they are fully vaccinated or not.  

Visit: https://cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/covid-19/mitigationguidance/ for more information on CCDPH mitigation orders.

For the latest COVID-19 vaccination information in suburban Cook County, and to make an appointment to be vaccinated, visit: https://cookcountypublichealth.org/.

 

MORE NEWS: 12 California Residents Contract COVID-19 After Attending Wedding In Milwaukee; 5 Have Omicron Variant

Tara Molina