CHICAGO — The state may not hit its peak in coronavirus cases until mid-June, Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday.
When the pandemic initially hit the state, cases were predicted to peak in late April or early May. But as testing has expanded and more data rolled in, public health officials now believe the peak will be in mid-June, the governor said.
“Everyone tracking our state’s data has likely seen that, on a statewide basis, we haven’t passed our peak yet,” Pritzker said. “We have seen more stability in our numbers, but so far we are not seeing significant declines in key metrics like hospitalizations.”
The later peak, which is also expected to be lower than initially predicted, is a sign Illinois is on the right track in flattening the curve because it shows the state has slowed down the spread of the virus, Pritzker said.
The governor said the pushed-back peak is simply a “natural consequence of flattening the curve.”
“In many ways, this news is disheartening,” Pritzker said. “Pushing the peak down and therefore to a longer timeframe might not sound like good news to some, but I promise you: It is saving lives.”
Officials have repeatedly said the state’s efforts to stop the spread, like enacting the stay at home order and banning gatherings of people, led to the curve flattening. Experts estimate social distancing measures here have saved thousands of lives.
Pritzker noted other signs of progress: Illinois’ R-nought number — which measures how many people one infected person transmits the virus to, on average — was 3.6 at the beginning of the crisis, meaning each person with COVID-19 was transmitting the virus to more than three people, on average. It’s now fallen to 1.
Once it goes lower that will mean the state will see a decline in cases, which is “very good news,” Pritzker said.
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