ILLI­NOIS RECORDS MOST NEW DAILY COVID CASES SINCE MAY

As Illi­nois sees largest sin­gle day caseload since May, Pritzker warns ‘we’re at a dan­ger point’

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH DUDEK, STAFF RE­PORTER mdudek@sun­times.com | @mitch­dudek

Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Illi­nois is at “a dan­ger point” in the bat­tle against COVID-19, as public health of­fi­cials on Thurs­day an­nounced an­other 1,772 new coro­n­avirus cases — the high­est sin­gle day tally since May, when the virus hit its deadly peak.

The rise is part of a dis­turb­ing trend that’s seen July’s daily case aver­age shoot up to more than 1,100, com­pared to 764 per day last month. In the last nine days alone, more than 13,000 new cases have been re­ported — more than half the to­tal for all of last month.

Speak­ing in down­state Peo­ria, an area Pritzker has put on his warn­ing list, the gov­er­nor sug­gested res­i­dents are at a cross­roads.

“We’re at a dan­ger point ev­ery­body. Pay at­ten­tion,” he said. “Now is the mo­ment to wear your mask prop­erly.”

The state’s pos­i­tiv­ity rate — which ex­perts say in­di­cates how rapidly the virus is spread­ing through a re­gion — was 2.7% on June 26, when most busi­nesses, res­tau­rants and bars were al­lowed to re­sume lim­ited op­er­a­tions un­der the fourth phase of Pritzker’s re­open­ing plan.

But on Wed­nes­day, the gov­er­nor said “right now, things are not head­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” warn­ing “if things don’t change, a re­ver­sal is where we’re headed.”

The 1,772 new cases rep­re­sent the high­est daily to­tal since May 24, when 2,508 were re­ported. May saw an aver­age of more than 2,100 cases a day. July’s daily aver­age hit 1,123 with the lat­est caseload.

“Much of the in­crease in cases has been tied to the 29 and un­der pop­u­la­tion, large so­cial gath­er­ings and household spread from fam­ily mem­ber to fam­ily mem­ber,” Pritzker said in a Face­book post.

On Thurs­day, health of­fi­cials also an­nounced 18 more deaths at­trib­uted to COVID-19 and a seven-day pos­i­tiv­ity rate hold­ing at 3.8%. That num­ber has climbed up­ward from 2.5% three weeks ago.

The state’s to­tal case count stands at 176,896. Its tally of coro­n­avirus deaths is 7,478.

Look­ing at the weekly aver­age of new cases is also cause for con­cern.

The seven-day new case aver­age stands at 1,424. It’s nearly dou­ble the com­pa­ra­ble aver­age of 766 that was recorded a month ago on

June 30.

Pritzker has said he would not hes­i­tate to reim­pose re­stric­tions in re­gions of the state where the virus is rapidly spread­ing.

If a re­gion sur­passes cer­tain thresh­olds — met­rics in­clude per­cent­age of peo­ple test­ing pos­i­tive, hospi­tal ca­pac­ity, and ris­ing hospi­tal ad­mis­sions — then of­fi­cials can choose to tighten re­stric­tions from a “menu” of op­tions out­lined in the new tiered-sys­tem.

Four coun­ties have been put at the “warn­ing level” for “risky be­hav­ior:” LaSalle in north­cen­tral Illi­nois, Ran­dolph in the Metro East re­gion near St. Louis, cen­trally lo­cated Peo­ria and Adams along the Mis­sis­sippi River.

“And we’re count­ing on lo­cal res­i­dents to hold your elected lead­ers ac­count­able,” Pritzker said Mon­day at the Adams County Health Depart­ment in Quincy. “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 stay-at-home or­der.”

NAM Y. HUH/AP FILE

Med­i­cal per­son­nel at Ad­vo­cate Lutheran Gen­eral Hospi­tal con­duct drive-thru COVID-19 test­ing in Park Ridge in March.

NEAL EAR­LEY/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a news con­fer­ence at the Adams County Public Health Depart­ment in Quincy on Mon­day.

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