Pritzker: Illinois is ‘Going it Alone’ in Efforts to Increase COVID-19 Testing

New statewide totals: 77,741 cases, 3,406 deaths

Another 1,656 people in Illinois have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials announced Sunday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 77,741.

The total number of fatalities linked to the virus now stands at 3,406, with an additional 57 deaths reported Sunday.

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Some 13,653 specimens were tested from Saturday to Sunday – surpassing the goal Gov. J.B. Pritzker set a month ago for 10,000 test a day that was finally met on April 24, but a drop from Friday’s high of 20,671 tests.

Illinois needs to perform more tests in order to safely reopen the economy.

According to a recent study from Harvard University and STAT, a medical and science media company, Illinois needs to run about 30,000 COVID-19 tests daily.

Pritzker, in a Sunday morning appearance on CNN, said he “has not been counting on the White House” for help reaching that goal “because there have been too many situations in which they’ve made promises and not delivered.” (Watch the full interview, above.)

Illinois is expecting a shipment of 620,000 swabs for test kits from the federal government.

“We’re going it alone, as the White House has left all the states to do. And we’ve done well spinning up testing, we will continue to grow our testing. We have the ability to do that on our own,” Pritzker said.  

The governor said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is continuing to increase “because we’ve been testing a great deal more than ever before.”

“We’ve got to make sure that we test as many people as possible,” he said.

Pritzker’s plan to lift restrictions on businesses is also contingent on a robust contract tracing plan that involves monitoring when individuals come into physical contact with someone who soon after tests positive for COVID-19.

“In order to reopen businesses, in order for people to feel confident we have to make sure that we’re constantly growing those efforts,” Pritzker said.

While county health departments and other organizations are doing contract tracing on a limited basis, Illinois is still in the process of developing a more vigorous contract tracing program.

Illinois’ new acting chief epidemiologist, Dr. Wayne Duffus, will coordinate those operations.

Republican lawmakers, downstate residents, restaurant owners and other critics fault Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan.

Under it, the earliest date restaurants, gyms and salons may possibly open is June 29.

A Chicago Tribune editorial characterized the framework as “cautious to the extreme” for “extend(ing) the benchmarks for victory from bending the infection curve to defeating the virus altogether.”

During his “State of the Union” appearance Sunday morning, Pritzker defended his plan.

“The truth is that coronavirus is still out there. It hasn’t gone anywhere. And so we all are gonna have to change the way we do things until we’re able to eradicate it,” he said.

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.

Additional resources:

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

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