If you want to dine in at your favorite local restaurant, you have Saturday and Sunday to do it — in most of the area, anyway.
Come 12:01 a.m. Monday, Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Piatt, Vermilion and 16 other surrounding counties will revert back to the way things were in Phase 3 — when takeout and eating outdoors were the only options — per the order of Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
But not everyone plans to abide by the new rules.
The owners of two local establishments contacted by News-Gazette Our County Editor Dave Hinton said they have no intention of ceasing indoor dining.
Said Jeff Buckler, owner of Buford’s Pub in Sadorus: “It wasn’t an easy (decision), let me put it that way. We went through the last one; it was supposed to last two weeks and lasted what, 120 days?
“I’m fighting for every small business out there. I’m just tired of being told what to do when they’re using the bars and restaurants as scapegoats. What about the Walmarts and Targets?”
Buckler said he has hired an attorney, whom he said furnished him with a chart that shows that out of 100 people who contracted COVID, one got it from a small business.
He said the attorney went through all the statutes and licenses, and told him: “They don’t have a leg to stand on.”
“We wipe down our menus, our tables, our doors. We always wear masks. We always encourage our customers to wear masks," Buckler said.
Jim Flanigan, owner of Urbana's Apple Dumpling, said he also retained an attorney — Tom DeVore, who made headlines this summer when he represented state Rep. Darren Bailey in a lawsuit against Pritzker.
“The reason (for not planning to close indoor service) is the governor has no authority. He’s lost in court” in earlier cases, Flanigan told Hinton.
“The governor is picking on small businesses, restaurants and bars and nobody else. There is no science. They haven’t shown any science that it’s spread by my restaurant or any other business," Flanigan argued.
“We’ve taken measures. We’ve followed the health department recommendations. It’s not just about me; it’s about employees," added Flanigan, who has a staff of 20. "When we shut down earlier, we had to lay them off.”
Friday's announcement by the state was no surprise following back-to-back days of seven-day positivity rates exceeding 8.0 percent. A third day, per Pritzker's mitigation plan, would trigger additional preventative restrictions, as it had in nine of Illinois' 11 other regions.
The restrictions don't directly impact schools, many businesses or election polling places.
The full list:
- No indoor dining or bar service
- All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.
- Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
- No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
- Reservations required for each party
- No seating of multiple parties at one table
- No indoor service
- All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.
- All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
- No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
- Tables should be 6 feet apart
- No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
- No dancing or standing indoors
- Reservations required for each party
- No seating of multiple parties at one table
MEETINGS, SOCIAL EVENTS, GATHERINGS
- Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
- No party buses
- Gaming and casinos close at 11 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable
As has been the case in other regions, Pritzker’s announcement was met with a fair share of resistance, including from state legislators.
On the day that the state set single-day pandemic records for most tests (95,111) and new cases (6,943), state Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said availability to testing isn't sufficient in certain parts of Region 6.
"Today, I was cut off by the Governor’s office on our conference call and not allowed to even ask a question about their decision on Region 6 mitigation. So let me point out: that in seven months, the Governor’s office has absolutely failed to bring widespread testing availability to downstate Illinois," Rose said.
“As the University of Illinois proved, if you can rapidly test, interdict and quarantine infected individuals, you can absolutely save lives. But the fact is that testing just isn’t widely available to most of Region 6. And even for those lucky enough not to have to drive an hour each way to get tested, waiting five to seven days for results doesn’t do much good, either.
“It’d be nice if he’d spend more time getting us the testing resources we need to knock this back, and less time having press conferences blaming others.”
Pritzker was challenged on a number of topics during his Friday afternoon COVID-19 briefing in Chicago, including the further damage that would be done to small businesses with Friday's order.
The governor joined local leaders in calling for Illinoisans to support restaurants and bars by ordering takeout and dining outdoors when possible.
“The effect on business of this virus is tragic,” Pritzker said, citing multiple studies that show restaurants and bars being especially susceptible to the virus spreading. “I grieve for them and I also want to provide support for them.”
For mitigation measures to be relaxed under Pritzker’s plan, a region must have three straight days of a seven-day positivity rate under 6.5 percent.
If the rate goes in the other direction — and remains at 8 percent or higher for 14 days — "more stringent mitigations may be applied to further reduce spread of the virus,” state officials said in Friday’s announcement.
“I want to get restaurants and bars open as soon as possible,” Pritzker said during Friday’s news conference. “If we can get regions down to 6.5 percent, we can reopen where we were before.
“It’s not a week, it’s not a month, it’s three days.”
If the restrictions remain in place for a sustained period, Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said the effects could be devastating to the industry.
“Fifty-five percent of Illinois operators say it's unlikely their restaurants will be open if the current conditions are still in place in the next six months,” Toia said. “The most conservative estimates say that a minimum of 20 percent of our restaurants will close down here in the state of Illinois. That means we will lose over 120,000 jobs.”
Pritzker gave no indication Friday that he was willing to back away from his mitigation strategy.
“Every day, we now see these numbers going through the roof,” he said. “And so the idea that we’re going to make the locations that are amplifying the number of cases and the spread, the transmission of this virus, that we’re going to open those even more at this point makes no sense.”
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY: Hospitalizations up two, seven-day rate without UI tests holds at 5.2 percent
Of 10,011 new tests, 79 came back positive Friday in Champaign County.
The county’s seven-day rate without University of Illinois testing factored in — the metric the state uses for Champaign County in its mitigation plan — held at 5.2 percent through Oct. 27.
Other Champaign County coronavirus numbers of note:
— The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 grew by two, to eight.
— Recovered cases outnumber active ones, 5,796 to 506, the latter an increase of 33 overnight.
— The number of close contacts currently in quarantine rose by 67, to 1,540.
Here’s an updated rundown of county ZIP codes with active cases followed by their total number of cases, according to C-U Public Health District data:
- 61820/Champaign: 145 active (up 23 from Thursday), 2,741 total (up 28)
- 61821/Champaign: 67 active (up three from Thursday), 637 total (up 12)
- 61866/Rantoul: 66 active (down six from Thursday), 511 total (up eight)
- 61822/Champaign: 44 active (up two from Thursday), 486 total (up four)
- 61801/Urbana: 35 active (down two from Thursday), 575 total (up two)
- 61853/Mahomet: 27 active (down one from Thursday), 254 total (up three)
- 61802/Urbana: 30 active (up five from Thursday), 436 total (up six)
- 61873/St. Joseph: 24 active (up three from Thursday), 140 total (up three)
- 61874/Savoy: 11 active (up two from Thursday), 153 total (up three)
- 61880/Tolono: 11 active (up one from Thursday), 93 total (up one)
- 61843/Fisher: 10 active (down one from Thursday), 54 total (unchanged)
- 61878/Thomasboro: 6 active (down one from Thursday), 27 total (unchanged)
- 61877/Sidney: 5 active (up one from Thursday), 36 total (up one)
- 61862/Penfield: 5 active (up two from Thursday), 7 total (up two)
- 61864/Philo: 4 active (down one from Thursday), 35 total (unchanged)
- 60949/Ludlow: 4 active (up one from Thursday), 11 total (up two)
- 61816/Broadlands: 3 active (down one from Thursday), 9 total (up one)
- 61847/Gifford: 2 active (unchanged from Thursday), 19 total (unchanged)
- 61849/Homer: 2 active (up one from Thursday), 17 total (up one)
- 61840/Dewey: 2 active (up one from Thursday), 8 total (up one)
- 61859/Ogden: 1 active (unchanged from Thursday), 18 total (unchanged)
- 61872/Sadorus: 1 active (up one from Thursday), 7 total (up one)
- 61863/Pesotum: 0 active (unchanged from Thursday), 17 total
- 61875/Seymour: 0 active (unchanged from Thursday), 10 total
- 61871/Royal: 0 active (unchanged from Thursday), 10 total
- 61845/Foosland: 0 active (unchanged from Thursday), 9 total
- 61851/Ivesdale: 0 active (unchanged from Thursday), 5 total
- 61810/Allerton: 0 active (unchanged from Thursday), 1 total
The county’s pandemic totals, according to CUPHD:
- 790,767 tests
- 6,330 confirmed cases
- 28 fatalities
- 9,848 close contacts quarantined
- 1,032 close contacts that became positive
VERMILION COUNTY: 8.6 percent seven-day positivity rate
On the day it was removed from the state’s county coronavirus warning level list, Vermilion reported 33 new cases, pushing its total to 1,650.
Hospitalizations held at 17 Friday while the seven-day positivity rate increased from 7.8 to 8.6 percent.
How the new cases — among 178 now classified as active — break down by age:
- Two residents in their 80s
- Five in their 70s
- Three in their 60s
- Four in their 50s
- One in their 40s
- Five in their 30s
- Three in their 20s
- Three teens
- Six grade school-aged children
- One toddler
IDPH: Piatt woman among fatalities; Douglas, Ford remain on county warning level list
A woman in her 90s became the second Piatt County resident to lose their life to COVID-19.
It’s the county’s second fatality of the week after going the first seven-plus months of the pandemic without recording a death.
Her death was among 36 reported statewide Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Of a single-day record 95,111 new tests statewide, IDPH reported that a record 6,943 came back positive Friday.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 8.5 percent.
The 36 fatalities announced Friday spanned 26 counties:
- Adams County: 1 male 90s
- Carroll County: 1 female 80s
- Christian County: 1 male 50s
- Cook County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s
- Fulton County: 1 male 70s
- Greene County: 2 females 90s
- LaSalle County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- Livingston County: 1 male 60s
- Macon County: 1 female 70s
- Madison County: 1 male 70s
- McDonough County: 1 male 60s
- Morgan County: 1 male 80s
- Peoria County: 1 female 90s
- Piatt County: 1 female 90s
- Saline County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s
- St. Clair County: 1 male 70s
- Tazewell County: 1 male 60s
- Wayne County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
- White County: 1 male 80s
- Will County: 2 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 females 90s
- Winnebago County: 1 female 70s
Meanwhile, Douglas and Ford remained on IDPH’s coronavirus warning level list, along with 47 of the state’s 100 other counties:
- Jo Daviess
- Rock Island
UI: 3,000 confirmed cases since Aug. 16
Twenty-seven new cases emerged from 8,980 new tests Thursday on the UI campus, a rate of 0.3 percent, according to data updated Friday.
The campus’ seven-day positivity rate remained 0.4 percent for the third straight day.
Since Aug. 24, when classes began, there have been 2,718 unique cases of COVID-19 on the UI campus.
Since Aug. 16, when move-in week kicked off, there have been 3,000 cases.
Here’s a daily breakdown of tests and unique cases since students began reporting to campus in mid-August, according to the UI’s COVID-19 dashboard:
- Thursday, Oct. 29: 8,980 new tests, 27 new cases
- Wednesday, Oct. 28: 9,579 new tests, 34 new cases
- Tuesday, Oct. 27: 10,294 new tests, 36 new cases
- Monday, Oct. 26: 11,112 new tests, 74 new cases
- Sunday, Oct. 25: 4,935 new tests, 23 new cases
- Saturday, Oct. 24: 3,870 new tests, 15 new cases
- Friday, Oct. 23: 9,284 new tests, 22 new cases
- Thursday, Oct. 22: 8,581 new tests, 23 new cases
- Wednesday, Oct. 21: 9,639 new tests, 20 new cases
- Tuesday, Oct. 20: 9,964 new cases, 18 new cases
- Monday, Oct. 19: 10,611 new tests, 18 new cases
- Sunday, Oct. 18: 4,320 new tests, 6 new tests
- Saturday, Oct. 17: 3,666 new tests, 2 new cases
- Friday, Oct. 16: 9,700 new tests, 9 new cases
- Thursday, Oct. 15: 7,777 new tests, 9 new cases
- Wednesday, Oct. 14: 9,322 new tests, 11 new cases
- Tuesday, Oct. 13: 10,057 new tests, 14 new cases
- Monday, Oct. 12: 9,573 new tests, 23 new cases
- Sunday, Oct. 11: 4,358 new tests, 8 new cases
- Saturday, Oct. 10: 3,574 new tests, 11 new cases
- Friday, Oct. 9: 9,867 new tests, 10 new cases
- Thursday, Oct. 8: 7,953 new tests, 14 new cases
- Wednesday, Oct. 7: 9,780 new tests, 21 new cases
- Tuesday, Oct. 6: 10,369 new tests, 25 new cases
- Monday, Oct. 5: 11,142 new tests, 48 new cases
- Sunday, Oct. 4: 4,374 new tests, 7 new cases
- Saturday, Oct. 3: 3,851 new tests, 9 new cases
- Friday, Oct. 2: 10,765 new tests, 18 new cases
- Thursday, Oct. 1: 7,577 new tests, 27 new cases
- Wednesday, Sept. 30: 10,354 new tests, 32 new cases
- Tuesday, Sept. 29: 10,637 new tests, 36 new cases
- Monday, Sept. 28: 10,736 new tests, 36 new cases
- Sunday, Sept. 27: 4,408 new tests, 28 new cases
- Saturday, Sept. 26: 3,892 new tests, 17 new cases
- Friday, Sept. 25: 11,090 new tests, 41 new cases
- Thursday, Sept. 24: 9,086 new tests, 27 new cases
- Wednesday, Sept. 23: 9,671 new tests, 28 new cases
- Tuesday. Sept. 22: 11,030 new tests, 62 new cases
- Monday, Sept. 21: 10,474 new tests, 42 new cases
- Sunday, Sept. 20: 4,383 new tests, 11 new cases
- Saturday, Sept. 19: 4,133 new tests, 13 new cases
- Friday, Sept. 18: 10,564 new tests, 27 new cases
- Thursday, Sept. 17: 7,802 new tests, 18 new cases
- Wednesday, Sept. 16: 9,965 new tests, 24 new cases
- Tuesday, Sept. 15: 11,232 new tests, 45 new cases
- Monday, Sept. 14: 10,214 new tests, 40 new cases
- Sunday, Sept. 13: 4,568 new tests, 17 new cases
- Saturday, Sept. 12: 4,009 new tests, 10 new cases
- Friday, Sept. 11: 11,253 new tests. 35 news cases
- Thursday, Sept. 10: 6,626 new tests, 34 new cases
- Wednesday, Sept. 9: 11,993 new tests, 47 new cases
- Tuesday, Sept. 8: 11,621 new tests, 81 new cases
- Monday, Sept. 7: 6,299 new tests, 69 new cases
- Sunday, Sept. 6: 2,987 new tests, 37 new cases
- Saturday, Sept. 5: 2,609 new tests, 37 new cases
- Friday, Sept. 4: 14,204 new tests, 104 new cases
- Thursday, Sept. 3: 14,841 new tests, 88 new cases
- Wednesday, Sept. 2: 7,089 new tests, 120 new cases
- Tuesday, Sept. 1: 14,367 new tests, 199 new cases
- Monday, Aug. 31: 17,227 new tests, 230 new cases
- Sunday, Aug. 30: 3,640 new tests, 104 new cases
- Saturday, Aug. 29: 2,895 new tests, 50 new cases
- Friday, Aug. 28: 15,030 new tests, 65 new cases
- Thursday, Aug. 27: 15,123 new tests, 60 new cases
- Wednesday, Aug. 26: 6,812 new tests, 54 new cases
- Tuesday, Aug. 25: 15,850 new tests, 89 new cases
- Monday, Aug. 24: 17,656 new tests, 79 new cases
- Sunday, Aug. 23: 4,474 new tests, 53 new cases
- Saturday, Aug. 22: 3,326 new tests, 43 new cases
- Friday, Aug. 21: 10,877 new tests, 54 new cases
- Thursday, Aug. 20: 10,742 new tests, 52 new cases
- Wednesday, Aug. 19: 6,300 new tests, 29 new cases
- Tuesday, Aug. 18: 6,162 new tests, 20 new cases
- Monday, Aug. 17: 9,064 new tests, 24 new cases
- Sunday, Aug. 16: 2,453 new tests, 7 new cases
JONES MASS MAIL: 'If we do not come together now, we will be forced to take more extreme measures'
In a mass mail to faculty, staff and students on Friday, UI Chancellor Robert Jones said the Region 6 mitigations wouldn’t have any effect on in-person instruction but said the recent rise in new cases is a concern.
Jones wrote: “On Monday, our on-campus COVID-19 testing recorded the highest number of new positive cases and the highest single-day positivity rate since the beginning of September. Meanwhile, the numbers in our surrounding communities have begun to rise significantly as the Midwest and Illinois experience a second wave of COVID-19.
“We have a number of requirements currently in place, but I am writing to ask you to be even more vigilant in taking precautions starting right now, especially in your personal lives. If we do not come together now, we will be forced to take more extreme measures.
“Prioritize Your Mental Health. We know this is an incredibly difficult time, and the stress and uncertainty of the semester and ongoing pandemic continues to deeply affect us all. First and foremost, please do what you need to take care of your mental and emotional health. I know many of these COVID-19 safety measures are designed to take care of you physically, but for all of us, limiting our in-person contact with others has taken a toll.”
“If You Test Positive, Follow the Law. Isolation as directed by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) is mandatory. You should not leave your residence/isolation location after receiving a positive test result until you are notified you can do so by CUPHD. If you do not follow this guidance, you will be in violation of state law. Students, faculty and staff who fail to comply with these public health directives could be subject to disciplinary action.”
“Limit Travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts tell us that travel in and out of communities presents a high risk of spreading the infection. In our current situation, with a rising prevalence in the surrounding region and the Chicago area, traveling to and from the Champaign-Urbana area is not advised and is potentially dangerous. Please try to travel out of our community only if necessary. If you must travel, test a few days before your scheduled travel. Then get a campus saliva test immediately upon return, self-quarantine until you receive your results, and limit your activities to essential activities such as attending work, testing, visiting the pharmacy and buying groceries until you receive two negative on-campus test results no sooner than three days apart.”
“Test Regularly. Even if you are not required, we encourage you to use our on-campus COVID-19 testing facilities as a resource to keep you safe. If you are required, continue your mandatory testing protocol. We are considering increased testing frequency for certain groups if it is deemed necessary.”
“Be More Careful in Your Off-Campus Behavior. Your behavior off-campus affects you and your entire community. Whether you are considering trick-or-treat activities, celebrating football season or gathering with a small group of friends, please prioritize safety above all else and follow local guidelines for gatherings. Continue to report parties that exceed authorized size limits or other unsafe actions (online) or by emailing email@example.com when you become aware of them.”
“Consider Working from Home. If your job responsibilities allow, please work with your supervisor to continue, or perhaps increase, a schedule to work from home. We are working with supervisors to continue to fully utilize remote work flexibility where possible. I encourage supervisors to talk with staff about possibilities for increased remote work.
“I know this semester has not been easy. As we move into the home stretch of the semester, I want to say thank you. I know we are all feeling the mental, physical and emotional effects of the impacts of COVID-19. This has been enormously hard. We are all feeling that weight. We need to come together, now more than ever, to ensure we can continue to maximize the safety of the community and continue fulfilling our responsibilities as the state’s flagship university.”