Pritzker: Positivity rate still too high in Illinois
Gov. JB Pritzker takes questions about the state's COVID-19 response at an update in Chicago Wednesday. (Credit: Blueroomstream.com)
Statewide rate level at 3.5%; COVID-19 deaths surpass 8,500
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – While Illinois’ rolling average COVID-19 positivity rate remains lower than surrounding states, Gov. JB Pritzker said once again Wednesday it is still too high to resume a level of normalcy beyond mitigations currently in place.
The rolling seven-day average positivity rate in the state remained at 3.5 percent Wednesday for the fifth straight day, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, which reported another 1,848 new cases of the virus among 46,391 test results reported over the previous 24 hours.
“I would love it if we could get below 2 percent, that would be terrific,” Pritzker said. “We're not anywhere near that right now. And what has happened is that Illinois, even though we've got the best positivity rate among all of our neighboring states, it's still a concerning positivity rate.”
The governor once again said unequivocally he is listening to medical experts when it comes to allowing fall sports with a high risk of transmission. The expert recommendations are to not allow contact sports such as wrestling and football at this time. Sports such as football and volleyball have been tentatively rescheduled for the spring.
As for schooling, the state has let local school districts decide the best method for engaging students.
“Our schools are a priority, we want to make sure that kids are back in school,” Pritzker said. “There are many kids who are in hybrid programs, and many kids who are not at all in school, they’re just in e-learning. And the further we can drive this positivity rate down, the more I'm looking forward to the idea that kids will be able to get back in school.”
Pritzker also noted that Region 1 of the state’s reopening plan, which includes Rockford in Winnebago County and several surrounding counties in northwest Illinois, has seen its positivity rate rise to 7.5 percent. That’s higher than Region 4, which includes the Metro East area along the Missouri border near St. Louis, which currently sits at 7.3 percent.
If Region 1 sees the rate rise above 8 percent for three straight days, it would be in line for added mitigations, such as closing of bars and restaurants to indoor drinking and dining. Region 4 will have stricter mitigations removed if it falls below 6.5 percent for three straight days.
Pritzker said the state has reached out to county health officials in Region 1 to “discuss preventative measures that can be taken at the local level to avoid additional mitigations in their communities.”
Other regions ranged from 2.6 percent in east-central Illinois to 6 percent in southern Illinois.
IDPH also announced another 22 COVID-19-related deaths, pushing confirmed virus-related casualties to 8,508. There have now been 279,114 confirmed cases of the virus among more than 5.2 million test results reported. The recovery rate for those 42 days removed from a positive diagnosis is 96 percent, according to IDPH.
“Some people have become a bit numb to the numbers but I want to remind people that COVID-19 can have severe consequences,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “Definitely in the short run, and to be seen in the long run.”
Ezike once again urged all Illinoisans to wear a face covering, keep six feet apart from others, wash hands and get a flu vaccine to guard against illness.
Nationally, the death toll exceeds 200,000, which Pritzker called an “unimaginable number.” He said as the death toll rises, so does the number of people affected by the virus.
“And so unfortunately, as the numbers grow, maybe people aren't focusing as much on the how big that number is. But they are focusing on the fact that they know somebody in their community who suffered from (the virus),” he said.
Hospitalization numbers in the state remained roughly level above their pandemic lows. At the end of Tuesday, there were 1,563 persons in Illinois reported hospitalized with COVID-19, including 351 in intensive care units and 144 patients on ventilators.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.