May 30, 2020

Pritzker: Illinois leads U.S. in coronavirus testing per capita, as state passes 98,000 cases

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CHICAGO — The number of coronavirus disease cases confirmed in Illinois passed 98,000 Tuesday as testing continues to expand across the state, according to health officials.

Over the past day, 1,545 new cases of COVID-19 and 146 related deaths were confirmed in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health reports. This brings statewide totals to 98,030 cases of COVID-19 and 4,379 coronavirus-related deaths.

The latest cases were found as 18,443 coronavirus test were conducted over the past day, bringing that statewide total up to 621,684. The statewide “positivity rate,” which reflects the percentage of tests found to be positive over the past seven days, remains steady at 14 percent.

“We know that the number of cases is a big function of how many tests we are doing, and we know that the deaths would have been significantly increased if we had not put in a stay-at-home order in place,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday.

According to Governor JB Pritzker, more people have been tested for COVID-19 on a per capita basis in Illinois than in any other “populous state” over the past week.

“Illinois has now overtaken New York to become the number one state in the nation for testing per capita over the past seven days,” Pritzker said.

As testing and contact tracing continues to expand, the entire state of Illinois remains on track for some stay-at-home restrictions to be relaxed in just over a week.

According to the latest state figures, all regions established in the Restore Illinois plan currently meet the criteria for moving on to the next “phase” of reopening on May 29. The northeast region which includes Chicago previously exceeded the test “positivity rate” needed to qualify, but that rate has since dropped below the 20 percent maximum.

The next phase allows for gatherings of 10 or fewer people, as well as the reopening of non-essential retail, manufacturing and certain other businesses under specific guidelines.

Here’s what Phase 3 would look like in areas that take the next step in reopening.

Insofar as the impact of the state’s COVID-19 response is concerned, Ezike said “there is evidence that the stay-at-home plans are working.” According to Ezike, there could have been “tens of thousands of deaths” in Illinois if no such measures had been put in place.

Ezike said there are currently 4,002 patients are in the hospital with COVID-19, including 993 in intensive care and 576 on ventilators.

Tuesday’s update included insights from health experts like Dr. Emily Landon from the University of Chicago, who stressed the need for face coverings as Illinois moves on to a new phase.

“These cloth masks don’t just help protect you from other people who might be sick — which it turns out some new evidence shows they me be better than we thought, which is great news — but they also help to keep your own respiratory droplets inside the mask,” Landon.

Watch Above: Governor JB Pritzker and health officials give an update on COVID-19 in Illinois and the latest state measures

Pritzker spoke via video chat during Tuesday’s daily update on COVID-19, but he will soon end his self-imposed quarantine that began after a staffer tested positive nearly two weeks ago.

The governor will travel to Springfield on Wednesday as the state legislature meets in person for the first time since the pandemic began.

The Illinois legislature plans to hold a three-day special session in order to pass a budget starting tomorrow, and will likely debate financial help for Illinois businesses and the unemployed. 

Additionally, Illinois Republicans called for the General Assembly to remove a proposal for a graduated income tax in Illinois from the fall ballot on Monday, saying the state’s pandemic-pillaged economy can’t sustain higher taxes.

There will also likely be pushback on the governor’s plan for reopening Illinois from downstate Republicans and officials representing areas with a relatively low number of infections, who say it is too conservative in its timeline and groups too many areas together.