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Illinois Heading In ‘Wrong Direction’ On Coronavirus As 18 More Die, Hospitalizations Rise

Six of the state's 11 regions have seen their positivity rates increase for at least seven out of the last 10 days, a warning sign the virus is making a comeback.

COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black and Brown Chicagoans highlighted existing health disparities in our segregated city.
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CHICAGO — Illinois is seeing a resurgence of coronavirus, officials warned Wednesday as cases, deaths and hospitalizations rose.

For weeks, the daily number of new cases of coronavirus has been on the rise in Illinois. Hospital admissions for COVID-19 have begun to increase, as well.

“We are seeing what much of the country is seeing in terms of a resurgence in the number of cases,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said during a Wednesday press conference. “Not only have we started to see an increase in the number of cases … but we’re also seeing a slight increase in hospital admissions, as well.

“These are clearly indicators that we are headed in the wrong direction.”

In the past day, 18 more people died from coronavirus in Illinois, including a woman in her 20s in Cook County. The losses bring the state’s death toll up to 7,462 people.

And 1,393 cases of coronavirus were reported. There have now been 175,124 confirmed cases in the state. The positivity rate held at 3.8 percent.

As of Tuesday night, 1,491 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 355 people in the ICU and 152 on ventilators.

Ezike said six of the state’s 11 regions have seen their positivity rates increase for at least seven out of the last 10 days, a warning sign the virus is making a comeback.

One region — Metro East in southern Illinois — is nearly at 8 percent positivity, which will mean the state could take steps like closing bars to try to lower the spread of COVID-19.

“We cannot continue to increase back to where we were,” Ezike said, reminding people Illinois saw 191 people die from coronavirus in just a day at the pandemic’s peak in mid-May.

Coronavirus fatigue is real, Ezike said, but that does not mean the virus is over and people in Illinois can let down their guard. She urged people to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing their hands.

People should also cancel group-based celebrations like bachelor parties and house parties, she said.

“Each of us is called to make that personal sacrifice now to avoid making a much larger one down the road,” Ezike said.

Gov. JB Pritzker, speaking at the same press conference, issued a similar warning, saying the parts of the state where the virus is surging need to have local leaders step up and impose stricter regulations to protect residents.

“We have to act responsibly and collectively to protect the people that we love,” Pritzker said. “We’ve made progress in Illinois, but we’ve also seen that it can be fleeting. And right now, things are not heading in the right direction.

“If things don’t change, a reversal is where we’re headed.”

Pritzker created regulations for youth and adult sports that limit practices and play, especially for high-contact sports like football and hockey. The regulations could doom high school football season — but they’re needed to protect children, parents, grandparents, coaches and more, Pritzker said.

Like Ezike, the governor urged people to wear masks and follow safety guidelines.

“It didn’t take long for Florida, Texas, Arizona and California to become plague with high rates of infection and death,” Pritzker said. “That was once where we were just 10 weeks ago.

“… Now there are danger signals as states all around us are spreading the virus, and some of our own people in Illinois haven’t gotten the message about wearing masks and abiding by the mitigations.”

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