Pritzker may consider more restrictions; state announces 31 more deaths
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he might consider stronger measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Illinois beyond his current stay-at-home order, but for now most people "are doing the right things."
State officials on Sunday announced 899 new cases of COVID-19 infection in Illinois and 31 additional deaths, including two Cook County men in their 40s and three women in their 50s.
The new cases bring the state's total to 11,256, and the death toll now stands at 274. Those figures were 4,596 and 65, respectively, one week ago.
The number of new infections and deaths announced Sunday are both lower than those announced Saturday. However, Pritzker said Illinois remains weeks away from its peak, now expected near the end of the month.
"We're really two weeks away from the beginning of peaking," Pritzker said Sunday during an appearance on the CNN program "State of the Union."
Later Sunday, during his daily public briefing on the pandemic, Pritzker said that if necessary he would consider further public restrictions to curb the virus' spread. Such measures could include a curfew or having people's temperatures taken before entering public places.
"People are for the most part abiding by the stay at home, they are doing the right things," he said. "But we will continue to look at what's possible, what's likely, and how we would enforce those things."
As has been the case throughout, the majority of the state's COVID-19 deaths are occurring in Chicago and the suburbs. Among the 31 deaths reported Sunday, 19 were in Cook County, four in DuPage County, three in Kane County and one each in Lake and Will counties.
"You all know like I know that these numbers represent people, they represent our fellow Illinoisans," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. "We should continue to do our best and keep everyone safe by staying home, washing our hands and physically distancing.
"To those still feeling like they need to take the entire family to the grocery store, please reconsider," she added. "There's no need for everyone to be out there, because we are all at risk."
Cases were reported for the first time Sunday in Boone, Calhoun and Gallatin counties. The virus has now been confirmed in 71 of the state's 102 counties.
"I can almost guarantee you that when all is said and done here, we'll see it in all 102," Pritzker said.
Pritzker announced Sunday that the state will be offering financial assistance to all essential workers paying for child care, and gave special recognition to Sheila Henson of Harvard, who operates Brown Bear Daycare in Harvard. By keeping the facility open, Pritzker said, Henson is allowing essential workers to provide for their families and the community.
"Everyone in Harvard ought to be grateful to Sheila Henson," he added.
Earlier in the day, Pritzker touched upon several topics during his CNN interview with host Jake Tapper, including his ongoing feud with President Donald Trump over the federal response to the pandemic. He accused the Trump administration of failing to act on intelligence in January and February that warned of the seriousness of the coronavirus.
"If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems we are having today and, frankly, very many fewer people would die," he said.
The governor also was asked to weigh in on the upcoming NFL season. Trump on Saturday said he expects the season to start as scheduled in September with fans in stadiums, but California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he does not see that happening in his state.
Pritzker said "the Bears are a great team whether they're playing or not," but added it's too soon to tell what will become of the NFL season.
"None of us really know," he said, noting that medical researchers seem at least weeks away from a widespread treatment for COVID-19. Experts say it will be a year or longer before a vaccine could be rolled out.
"It's either going to be a treatment and herd immunity or a vaccine that opens everything back up," Pritzker added.