SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (AP) — Illinois’ public health director urged residents Wednesday to celebrate the holidays with limited activities and greater precautions because of the persistence of COVID-19.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike said people who are sick should not attend celebrations at all. Her cautionary note came as Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive has risen all across the state. The statewide positivity rate is now 4.2%.
Officials announced 2,862 new cases of the highly contagious illness Wednesday and 49 additional deaths. COVID-19 has now claimed 9,074 lives among 327,605 confirmed cases in Illinois.
Ezike suggested that holiday celebrations be planned carefully, from modes of travel to dinner-table seating arrangements.
“COVID-19 has changed the way we work, live, and play, and will now change how we plan to celebrate the holidays,” Ezike said. “While the safest way to celebrate is with members of your household and connecting with others virtually, we know, for many, the holidays are all about family and friends.”
She said air travel could mean sitting close to others in airports while driving means stopping for gas and rest, so people should consider options carefully and wear masks.
Hosts of gatherings should limit the number of guests, try to have outdoor activities, open windows slightly to increase air flow, require guests to wear masks when not eating, and table seating should be by family with space between families.
Ezike also said anyone attending a celebration should limit his or her activities for two weeks prior to limit the chance of contracting and transmitting the virus.