CHICAGO — Another 20 people died from coronavirus during the last day in Illinois, the state announced Thursday.
That means Illinois’ death toll has risen to 7,367 people. Among the victims were nine people in Cook County, including a man in his 30s.
The state also reported 1,624 new cases of coronavirus over the last day — the highest number of new cases in a day since June 2. In all, there have been 166,925 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois.
The state’s positivity rate also ticked up to 3.4 percent.
As of Wednesday night, 1,473 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 309 people in the ICU and 135 people using ventilators.
Gov. JB Pritzker warned Wednesday the coronavirus is making a comeback in Illinois. The state has seen weeks of gradual increases in its number of new cases, and the positivity rate has risen slightly even though increased testing means it ideally should have dropped, officials said.
The growth in the positivity rate shows Illinois is seeing increased transmission of the virus, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said during a Wednesday press conference.
The rise in cases here is “very concerning,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said that gradual rise can quickly turn into exponential increase of coronavirus, like what Illinois saw during the peak of the pandemic in the spring. It wouldn’t “take long to reverse all of our gains,” the governor said.
“Our numbers now appear to be gradually rising, and that’s very concerning,” Pritzker said during a press conference. “There are those who mistakenly think, ‘No problem. You can’t eradicate the virus, and our numbers are so low we don’t need to do anything about it.’
“To them I would say: In every one of the states like Arizona and Florida that are in full-blown crisis right now, it started with a gradual rise in the numbers.”
Some of the rise was predictable because Illinois started opening up more as it moves into Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the state recovery plan, Ezike said.
But Pritzker said just opening up didn’t mean there had to be an increase in cases — what’s causing the increase is “opening up and having people not abide by the rules.”
“You can go from 3 percent positivity to Arizona’s 25 percent positivity in the blink of an eye,” Pritzker said. “We’ve been there. Let’s not let that happen again.”
Everyone should be wearing masks in public if they are able to do so, as they drastically cut down on transmission of coronavirus, the officials said.
Mask-wearing should not be politicized, Pritzker and Ezike said, and not wearing masks and not social distancing will certainly lead to Illinois seeing more cases and having to take steps back.
“If you’re not wearing a mask in public, you’re endangering everyone around you, so the enemy is you,” Pritzker said.
Most new cases here and throughout the state have been seen among people age 18-29 and 30-39. Officials have urged young people to stop gathering in large groups and to take safety precautions seriously.
Everyone should still practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently, Ezike said. She said businesses should also require customers to keep 6 feet apart and wear face coverings.
“This is not about restricting freedom; this is about decreasing the transmission of this virus, which ultimately saves lives,” Ezike said. “It’s that plain and that simple. This is about your actions and what you can do to keep your community safe.”
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