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Illinois Entering ‘New Wave’ Of Coronavirus Pandemic, With Every Region Seeing Surge, Pritzker Warns

Most parts of the state are seeing hospitalizations rising, a warning sign that deaths will begin to go up.

A pedestrian wears a mask in downtown Chicago as fears of COVID-19 rise on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Every part of Illinois is seeing a surge of coronavirus, Gov. JB Pritzker warned Monday.

Pritzker said every region in the state is struggling with rising positivity rates and new cases. Most parts of the state are also seeing hospitalizations rising, a warning sign deaths could soon begin to go up.

“We’re now entering a new wave of this virus,” Pritzker said at a Monday news conference. “So keep yourself, your family and your friend safe, and mask up, Illinois.”

The new wave of COVID-19 is particularly worrisome because more people are spending time indoors as the weather cools, which makes it easier for coronavirus to continue to spread, and because people have let down their guard and are excited for the holidays, Pritzker said.

But people can once again slow the spread by social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands, Pritzker said. Those measures helped drive down cases here in the late spring and summer.

“Things are getting worse,” Pritzker said. “Now is the time to wear a mask wherever you go. Get your flu shot. Forego unnecessary trips or gatherings and take extra care to stay 6 feet away from each other, especially in public.”

Pritzker sounded the alarm bells just hours after Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, held her own news conference to urge Chicagoans to social distance and wear masks as the city sees a spike in cases.

Across Illinois, 22 more people were reported to have died from COVID-19 during the past day. Among the victims were seven people in Cook County, including a man in his 50s. At least 9,236 people have died from coronavirus in Illinois.

The state also reported 3,113 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total in Illinois to 347,161.

Illinois’ positivity rate is at 5.4 percent, with 48,684 tests reported during the past day.

Hospitalizations are rising across the state, too. As of Sunday night, 2,096 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 485 people in the ICU and 179 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, new cases are up 50 percent since the start of October, and the city’s positivity rate and hospitalizations are quickly rising.

Lightfoot said Monday the city will bring back tighter restrictions on businesses if necessary, though the majority of the city’s spread is happening when small groups of family and friends are getting together.

Pritzker also warned Illinois’ regions could see more restrictions if their positivity rates and other metrics continue to climb.

The quick reversal is gravely concerning, Pritzker said.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said part of the spike is due to people not being “worried about this anymore.” People who don’t take safety precautions, like wearing a mask around others, can become part of the reason the virus spreads, she said.

But that also means people who do follow those guidelines are making an impact and protecting others, she said.

But Ezike said she’s also worried about if Illinois will be able to slow cases since people are starting to spend more time indoors, where the virus spreads easier.

“This suggests that the number of cases will continue to rise unless we do what we know we can do to turn this around,” Ezike said. “… If you wear your mask and keep your distance, you will help stop the spread of virus.”

There has been a resurgence throughout the United States and around the world in recent weeks. The majority of Illinois’ border states are struggling with skyrocketing coronavirus cases, though Illinois is faring better than other Midwestern state so far, Pritzker said.

Some states around Illinois have double-digit positivity rates with regions going as high as 25 percent, Pritzker said.

“… The majority of our border states have been called out as national hot spots, with Indiana and Missouri seeing hospitals reaching capacity with ICU shortages and with Wisconsin’s need so severe the state has opened a field hospital with plans for more potentially in the works,” Pritzker said. “We can’t wall off Illinois from the surge.

“But we can take extra precautions and do better than others at following the mitigations that slow the spread.”

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