A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS
As Illinois announces a sixth straight day of more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases, gov offers a sobering prediction: We won’t return to normal until 2021
QUINCY, Ill. — Considering ditching the mask? Think again.
The year that everyone can’t wait to be over won’t be ending anytime soon.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that Illinois is unlikely to return to normal until sometime next year.
“We don’t have to do this forever,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference at the Adams County Public Health Department in western Illinois. “We’re not there yet. And frankly, we’re not going to be there until 2021, in my humble opinion.
“I’m not a doctor, but that’s what my observation is, that we’re not going to be able to take off the mask and go about everything we were doing seven, eight months ago for a few more months, maybe six-plus months.”
Pritzker’s sobering prediction came as the state announced its sixth straight day of more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases and a positivity rate that keeps creeping up.
Health officials announced another 1,276 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 172,695 cases.
The new infections were confirmed among 30,567 test results reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the second smallest batch of tests over the last 10 days, raising the state’s seven-day positivity rate to 3.8%. That’s a 0.8% increase from last Monday, though the state remains well below the national average of 8.2%, according to Johns Hopkins University.
For weeks, Pritzker has been worrying that what he has dubbed a “mild uptick” in COVID-19 cases could be a sign the state is “heading the wrong direction.” Just last week he put four counties at the “warning level” for “risky behavior.”
Illinois’ daily case average in July swelled to 1,091 with Monday’s announcement. While that number is a 42.8% increase from June’s daily average of 764, it’s still a far cry from the peak month of May when the state averaged more than 2,100 new cases a day.
Despite the recent rise in infections, the state’s death toll from COVID-19 remained relatively low, with only 18 additional deaths reported Monday. That number is a solid increase from Sunday, when Illinois reported that just one person had died from the coronavirus — the state’s lowest fatality count in four months — but it follows the monthly trend as the state is averaging about 18 coronavirus-related deaths per day.
Since mid-March, the coronavirus has claimed 7,416 lives in Illinois.
On Monday, the same day Indiana’s statewide face mask mandate went into effect, Pritzker met with local officials in Quincy as part of a local push to get more people to wear face coverings.
The Mississippi River city is the county seat of Adams County, one the four counties on Pritzker’s warning list. The other three are LaSalle in north-central Illinois, centrally located Peoria, and Randolph in the Metro East region near St. Louis.
While leaders in Quincy are considering stricter enforcement of the state’s mandated social distancing guidelines, Pritzker took aim at coronavirus skeptics, saying the state won’t be over the pandemic until at least 2021.
The Chicago Democrat called on local officials to close or ticket bars that don’t adhere to capacity limits, as elected leaders have done in Chicago, Springfield and Kankakee.
“And we’re counting on local residents to hold your elected leaders accountable,” Pritzker
said. “Demand that they take action — because if they don’t, they’ll drive the entire region back to closed bars and restaurants and greater job losses, or even another stayat-home order.”
Maureen Kahn, president and CEO of Blessing Health System in Quincy, urged people in Adams County to wear masks, as the COVID-19 case count is surging and COVID-19 patients are filling her hospital.
“We have seen more patients in our hospital beds in the last three weeks than we saw in March, April and May,” Kahn said. “And we are using more drugs and more resources than we did in those months.”
“WE DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS FOREVER. WE’RE NOT THERE YET. AND FRANKLY, WE’RE NOT GOING TO BE THERE UNTIL 2021, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION.” GOV. J.B. PRITZKER, on Illinois’ eventual return to normal
Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Gov. J.B. Pritzker adjusts his face mask during a press conference this month.