ROCKFORD (WREX) — Region 1's seven-day rolling positivity rate recently hit a record low. But even though local restaurants are hoping we've turned the corner and are getting back to normal, doctors are cautious.
As coronavirus cases decline in our region, people are beginning to return to what's normal, like eating out.
"There's still a lot of to-go orders coming in, but we're starting to see more dining in," Megan Sengchannavong, the manager of Sisters Thai Café, says.
"We're grateful that the ones that are coming are coming," Kyra Hill, one of the owners of The Office, adds.
Both Sisters Thai Café and The Office in downtown Rockford got a little help recently from Dave Portnoy and Barstool Sports as part of the Barstool fund that helps keep small businesses afloat.
"Absolutely incredible... it's been such a help for us," Sengchannavong says.
About one month ago, Sisters got a call from Portnoy with a surprise, $15,000. The Office, which is directly across the street from Sisters, got $3,000.
"We're very excited and pleased to get that and grateful," Brian Finn, co-owner of The Office, says. "I mean, it was very unexpected, even though we applied, you don't think you're going to get something like that."
Cucina Di Rosa in Rockford also received help from the Barstool fund earlier this year.
But as these businesses count their blessings and begin to bounce back, they face difficult decisions ahead. For example, is now the time to hire back more staff or fully stock shelves?
"We did have to cut people and it's been difficult to get people to come back," Finn explains.
"We have ran out of food a couple times so, we're getting back to the normal amounts," Sengchannavong adds.
Currently, Region 1's positivity rate is under three percent.
"It's hard to escape the evidence that our infection rate is at it's all-time low," Dr. Stephen Bartlett, the Chief Medical Officer at OSF St. Anthony, says.
Dr. Bartlett credits the plan of vaccinating frontline workers first, but he warns people should continue to be on-guard.
"Yes, many people can be doing more of the things that represent normal to them, but we're not back to normal yet," Dr. Bartlett explains.
And just when we'll be back to normal is still a question mark.
One positive thing Dr. Bartlett says he's not seeing much of are flu cases and other viral infections. He says the masks are keeping people protected.