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Editorial: Governor needs to drop mitigation regions

Group projects. I detested them in college. Why? Because 90% of the time your group is held back by one or two folks on the team with their own agenda or are just annoyingly uncooperative.

When Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the regions for his resurgence mitigation plan, I knew us folks in Champaign County were getting the short end of the stick, much like in group projects in school. County government leaders should have voiced their disapproval being lumped into Region 6 with areas of the state - much like those students in your group who don't do their part to ensure that A for the assignment or project - in the governor's plan.

We are far enough along in the pandemic to understand how the spread works and it is high time the governor dismantle the regional set up he created. He and the Illinois Department of Public Health need to migrate his mitigation from a regional basis to a county by county level.

As of today, our county 7-day rolling positivity without the University of Illinois' saliva test is at 6.1%, well below the 8% rate that would put us back to Tier 4. If you factor in the university's test, Champaign County is at an impressive 1.7%.

Thanks to being lumped in with Iroquois, Ford, Vermillion, Macon, Moultrie, Douglas, Edgar, Shelby, Coles, Cumberland, Clark, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Clay, Richland and Lawrence counties, as a region we are 3 points higher at 9.1.

In our group Crawford, DeWitt, Macon and Piatt, all with their 7-day positivity 6% or lower, are doing their part to help move us back to less restrictive mitigation measures. The good kids, those four counties plus Champaign, are being punished for all the bad kids in the group.

Who are the bad kids? Let's see, there is Cumberland County leading the way at 18.3% - actually surprised it is not Clay County, but that's another story - and four others in the thirteens, more than twice that of good kids on our corner of the state. Edgar and Vermilion counties' positivity is 13.6%, while Effingham and Richland are trending at 13.4%.

Champaign County should be back to Tier 1, Tier 2 at the very least. Residents in the county, many reluctantly, have done their part.

Switching to an individual county positivity measure would not only reward residents for the vigilance and efforts in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, it would help kickstart the economy in many areas of the state, get people back to work and help motivated poorly performing counties make a great effort into complying with the state's mandates. Restaurants could return to limit indoor seating and sport teams could start training together for the upcoming spring and summer seasons. We could go back to small group events and more. After all, we earned the privilege.

Just as importantly, the state wins, too. With restaurants and bars open, it will benefit from the tax revenue, fewer unemployment claims and can focus enforcement of mitigation mandates on underperforming counties.

Dear Governor Pritzker, let some of the people in Region 6 go.