Illinois Leaders Concerned About Growing COVID-19 Cases

Jul 22, 2020

Wednesday, Illinois is reporting its most confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the month of July.

The 1,598 cases have Governor J-B Pritzker concerned. During a briefing Wednesday, he said health officials warn him a gradual increase in positivity rates can lead to a crisis, as seen now in states such as Florida, Texas, California and Arizona.

"You can go from 3% positivity to Arizona's 23% positivity in the blink of an eye. We've been there. Let's not let that happen again."

Pritzker said once the state entered Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan a month ago, a rise in cases was expected. But, he said the trouble starts when some businesses -- especially bars -- go beyond capacity limits.

"It's already difficult enough in bars. People are not masked, you're drinking. Guess what, your droplets are greater because you're drinking. People tend to be yelling or shouting or speaking louder than they normally do because there's music playing."

Pritzker said one of the reasons why some parts of Illinois are struggling with rising positivity rates is because border states are not controlling their case numbers.

The governor stressed opening up more of the economy means people need to be more vigilant about wearing face coverings in public.

The head of the Illinois Department of Public Health is puzzled by why some people are so opposed to wearing face coverings and keeping social distance to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during the briefing Wednesday, Illinoisans have taken simple measures like these in the past to help protect people.

"I don't understand when trying to protect our neighbors became a bad act. I venture to guess that nobody is disappointed about all the lives saved and all the cancers that were prevented from keeping restaurants and bars free from secondhand smoke."

Ezike said mitigation efforts such as face coverings, keeping distance and washing hands are universal. But, she said IDPH will work with local leaders to determine what additional steps are needed in each community.