Bending the curve? Pritzker offers glimmer of hope as COVID-19 cases top 20,000
Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered a glimmer of hope Sunday in the state's battle with COVID-19, reporting that the daily death toll from the virus was its lowest in six days while the rate of positive tests has remained relatively flat for two weeks.
"I've spoken before about a stabilizing or a bending of the curve," he said. "Today is one more piece of evidence that it may indeed be happening."
Pritzker announced 43 additional deaths in Illinois due to the coronavirus, along with 1,672 new infections since Saturday. That pushes the state over 20,000 infections -- 20,852, to be exact -- since the outbreak begin. The death toll now stands at 720.
As has been the case throughout, most of deaths reported Sunday occurred in the Chicago area, with 32 of the 43 in Cook County, four in Will County, three in Lake County, two in DuPage County and one in Kane County.
Pritzker said he is cautiously optimistic that the number of infections and deaths will begin to flatten and eventually decline.
"You don't really know until you start going down whether you have peaked," he added. "What I look for is a leveling, because the numbers had been going up exponentially and then they were going up arithmetically." Pritzker said there is also good news on the testing front, as 7,956 tests were conducted Saturday, the highest single-day total so far. That moves the state about halfway between the 6,000 tests per day that had been typical in recent days and its goal of 10,000 daily tests, he said.
Pritzker said the decision of when to lift his stay-at-home order -- currently in effect through April 30 -- will be determined by whether the state has seen a "significant drop-off" in new cases.
"The last thing we want is to begin to open things up and then have a big spike in infections and, unfortunately, all the spikes that come with that, including a spike in deaths," he said.
Another factor will be workplaces' ability to resume operations whole also abiding by social distancing guidelines.
"That's going to be industry by industry, maybe even company by company, something that needs to be worked on," he said.
Looking further ahead to November, Pritzker said the state should be working to make mail voting easier and available to everyone.
Pritzker thanked Apple for delivering 100,000 N95 masks over the weekend to support health care workers and first responders and urged citizens to fill out their census forms, reminding them that Illinois is competing with other states to have the highest response rate in the nation. Right now, he said Illinois ranks eighth out of 50 states.