The number of novel coronavirus cases in Illinois continues to rise – by another 2,450 from Friday to Saturday, with 105 people dying after testing positive – despite residents statewide being subjected to a stay-at-home order for six weeks.
The steady rise “really is a function of doing more tests,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during his press briefing Saturday. “And, in fact, what you’ll find is a lower infection rate. If you do the math, of how many tests done as a denominator and how many positives as a numerator, you’ll see that we’ve come down on average, from what was around (a) 21% or 22% infection rate to something in the high teens.”
In the past 24 hours, labs have processed 15,208 specimens – more than double the tests that were being processed on a daily basis a month ago.
In total, Illinois has seen 58,505 COVID-19 cases with 2,559 resulting in death.
Backlash against Pritzker, and the clampdowns he has issued in order to prevent the spread of the virus, are also increasing.
Friday saw protests outside the state capitol and the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, where the governor gives his daily coronavirus briefings, with some people carrying signs with Nazi propaganda and swastikas.
“The meaning of that swastika is apparently unknown to the people who are carrying it or if it is known, it is a demonstration of the hate that is among us,” Pritzker said. “Having said all that, these were a few hundred demonstrators. And there are millions of people in the state of Illinois, really good people who are doing the right thing protecting each other during this extraordinary crisis.”
Protesters are upset with Pritzker’s latest executive order, which runs through May but loosens some restrictions. Retailers have the green light to open for curbside pickup or delivery, golfers can once again hit the greens, some state parks have reopened and religious organizations can hold worship services with 10 or fewer people.
Chicago, however, is not allowing golf courses or paths along the lakefront to open just yet.
“Nothing in our data justifies it,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
But the latest statewide executive order also imposes new requirements, including that everyone over the age of 2 who can medically tolerate it wear a face covering or mask in public.
The order calls for coverings to be worn wherever and whenever social distancing is not feasible.
But Pritzker on Saturday stressed that masks should be worn in public, period – including when people are walking around their neighborhoods.
“Face coverings are vital for people to wear. In fact, it may be the most important thing that you can do to save other people’s lives, to keep other people from getting infected and to protect people in your own home,” he said.
The governor said he’s noticed that people seem to think that if they’re on the sidewalk, they don’t need to wear a mask if there’s nobody 6 feet in front of or behind them.
“People feel like why do I need to wear a mask? Well you know why: It’s because someone may be coming from the (other) direction toward you,” Pritkzer said. “You are going to be within 6 feet of that person for at least a few moments, as you pass that person and the next person, and the next person.”
Five of Illinois’ 102 counties – Edgar, Edwards, Pope, Putnam and Scott – continue to see no cases. Brown County saw its first case on Thursday.
Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky
Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources
Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including:
—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick
Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue
If you think you have COVID-19:
Call you doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.
—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
—Illinois’ COVID-19 website
—Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IPDH COVID-19 email link
—City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link