Illinois Limits Recreational Sports to Curb Virus Case Jump

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Illinois imposed limits on youth and amateur adult recreational sports, its first set of statewide restrictions since it began reopening in May, amid concern that rising Covid-19 cases will lead to a surge.

Governor J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday released a plan that groups various sports into lower, medium or higher risk, depending on proximity and the amount of contact during play. The limits, which begin on Aug. 15, temporarily halt competitive play for most medium and higher risk sports, including football and soccer. Pritzker is among public officials pausing efforts to restart business and leisure activities as coronavirus cases climb again nationally.

Illinois had success through early July in curbing the pandemic’s spread but that progress may be fleeting given surges in other states, Pritzker said during a press conference. While Illinois has a lower positivity rate than its neighbors, Pritzker said the state is taking steps to halt any rebound in cases.

“Right now, things are not heading in the right direction,” Pritzker said.

Illinois reported 1,393 new virus cases on Wednesday, up from 1,076 a day earlier, and its seven-day rolling test positivity rate has been climbing in recent weeks to 3.8%. Hospitalizations have ticked up, and as of last week, four counties were at warning levels, indicating two or more COVID-19 risk indicators, which measure the amount of the virus, showed an increase.

In the state’s Metro East area, which is near St. Louis along the Missouri border, the seven-day rolling positivity rate is at 7.8%, up from 7.1% a week ago. The state considers a weekly positivity rate of 8% among its warning signals to potentially take mitigation steps.

Outside Illinois, the picture is bleak. Daily death tolls from the coronavirus pandemic surged to record highs Wednesday in some of the hardest hit states such as Florida and California.

While individual Illinois districts are making their own decisions, Pritzker also said he’s watching school openings closely. The new recreational sports limits apply to private clubs, park districts, schools and other organizations and do not apply to professional sports, whose leagues are facing struggles of their own.

Pritzker warned that without observance of mitigations and guidelines such as wearing masks to control the spread, more restrictions may be added. Separately, the city of Chicago has placed 14-day quarantine requirements for those traveling to and from 22 other states, with four of them starting July 31.

“If things don’t change, a reversal is where we are headed,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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