CHICAGO (AP) — Faced with skyrocketing numbers of new coronavirus cases, with more than 20,000 confirmed in just the last two days, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s not ready to lock down the state again. Yet.
“We’re in a bad situation (but) I’m not lookin at the broader mitigation of stay at home ... as in something I would do in the coming days or a week. But I can’t guarantee you what it looks like two weeks from now or three weeks,” he told reporters Friday. “I just don’t know.”
The number of coronavirus cases has surged this autumn all over the United States and while an increase was widely anticipated, the scale of it, Pritzker said, was not.
“None of us, frankly, expected that the entire country will be swept with an increase in COVID-19,” he said.
During the news conference, an obviously worried Pritzker and the director of the state’s public health department pleaded with residents to do what they can to slow the spread of the virus. As of this week, Illinois has reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths.
“This isn’t just about you, this is about all of us,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The next several months are going to get very tough, they’re going to be very hard but how tough and how hard and how bad it is till depends on us. Please think beyond ourselves and do what we can to protect all of us. ”
Besides wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing, Ezike urged residents who receive a call from contact tracers to pick up the phone and answer the questions that the contact tracers have.
The news conference came the same week that the health department released some of the most grim statistics since the pandemic began earlier this year.
On Thursday, the department announced that the state surpassed 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths. And the 97 deaths announced that day was the highest number in a 24-hour period since June 4. And while the total number of deaths announced Friday was 49, the total new cases in a 24-hour period announced Friday — 10,374 — not only broke the record set just the day before, but it exceeded Thursday’s total by more than 400.
And a day after Pritzker said additional restrictions on social interaction were on the table “because the rise in cases and hospitalizations is unsustainable,” the health department said the number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals had climbed from under 3,900 to nearly 4,100. Further, after seeing a doubling in the number of patients in intensive care units in hospitals around the state, the health department said the number of patients in these units has climbed in a day from 772 to 786.
O’Connor reported from Springfield, Illinois.