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Pritzker says state moving in wrong direction on COVID-19

Staff Writer
State Journal-Register

With the number of new cases and positivity rates rising, Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that the entire state of Illinois is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to controlling the coronavirus pandemic.

Pritzker said the situation has gotten bad enough in southern Illinois that he is placing the region under stricter mitigation efforts that include a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants.

The situation also has gotten so serious, the governor said, that he is resuming daily briefings on the pandemic, something he discontinued in June when it appeared the state was making progress controlling the virus.

“While we continue to see a safer pandemic landscape than back in April and May, things have changed,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Murphysboro. “Every region of this state has started to move in the wrong direction. Cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths are rising statewide.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health said Monday that 3,113 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to bring the statewide total to 347,161.

Currently, 2,096 people are in the hospital, with 485 of them in intensive care. Of those, 179 are on ventilators.

IDPH said another 22 people succumbed to the virus, bringing that total to 3,113.

Public Health said the seven-day positivity rate is 5.4 percent. Nearly 48,700 tests were completed in the previous day.

Pritzker said Illinois is still doing much better than other states in the Midwest. In Wisconsin, for example, the situation is so dire that the state is opening a field hospital to handle the crush of patients. But while Illinois is doing better than other states, that doesn’t mean it is secure, he said.

“We can’t wall off Illinois from the surge,” Pritzker said. “But we can take extra precautions. Ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Pritzker announced that Region 5 in far southern Illinois will have mitigations imposed Thursday because the area’s positivity rate has exceeded 8 percent for three consecutive days. The positivity rate in the region is 9.1 percent.

The mitigations that will go into effect include a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants and a limit on crowd sizes to 25 people or less.

That will make two regions of the state that have had mitigation efforts imposed because of increasing positivity rates for the virus. Region 1 at the northern border of the state has been under similar mitigation rules since Oct. 3 because its rate climbed to 11.1 percent.

The region borders Wisconsin which is seeing once of the worst outbreaks in the country.

Pritzker said every other region in the state has seen an increase in the positivity rate over the last week.

“Even more concerning, the lowest regional positivity rate in our state is now 6.2 percent,” Pritzker said.

He said Region 7 – Kankakee and Will counties – and Region 8 – DuPage and Kane counties – could see mitigations imposed this week.

Illinois set a record for new cases in a day on Thursday. The very next day it broke that record.

Dr. Craig Davis of Southern Illinois Healthcare said people need to take precautions.

“What remains most alarming to me as a physician and father is the complacency I see in some of our community members. And the polarization over simple infection prevention methods, especially surrounding masks and social distancing,” he said. “I understand everyone has a yearning for returning to normalcy, but I urge everyone to stay the course.”

Pritzker said that people should follow all of the recommended precautions, but if they do nothing else, they should wear a mask.

“If you follow nothing else, if you’re skeptical, whatever the reason is, please just wear the mask,” Pritzker said. “Honestly, it takes care of most of the transmission issues that we have.”

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twittr.com/dougfinkesjr