74 more COVID-19 deaths, 1,222 new cases; Pritzker says state is bending the curve
While the COVID-19 toll is dire with 74 more fatalities and 1,222 new confirmed cases as of Tuesday, cumulative data shows the respiratory disease is losing steam.
Slowly, the state is "bending the curve," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at his daily briefing. But he also noted he was wary of lifting restrictions on social distancing.
Total fatalities from COVID-19 stand at 868 in Illinois, with 23,247 cases statewide.
Pritzker cited several metrics, including how fast COVID-19 cases or deaths were doubling per day. "On March 22, the rate at which our COVID-19 positive case count was doubling was just about two days," he said.
"As of this Sunday, April 12, our case doubling rate had reached 8.2 days."
The data shows a "clear demonstration that there is a deceleration of virus transmission." While Illinois' stay-at-home order expires April 30, Pritzker did not say he would lift the mandate but indicated some softening may be possible.
"To me right now, we're still in a phase, because we don't have the testing and tracing and treating that we need ... the most important thing is to stay at home and keep the infection rate down."
Pritzker and other governors are discussing "what are the preconditions for beginning to allow certain kinds of business to open their doors again and to expand the definition of those who can work or those businesses that can have their doors open," Pritzker said.
"All of that is going to be dependent on what we hear from the epidemiologists and the doctors."
The Illinois Department of Public Health is surveying people who contracted COVID-19.
Of individuals who were surveyed after seven days of testing positive, "44% have indicated recovery," IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said.
"At 14 days, the number increases to 50%. At 21 days after testing positive, we have 61% of people who responded (saying) that they no longer have symptoms. And at 28 days, 69% report no COVID-19 symptoms and feeling much better.
"So again, people are getting better, people recover from this disease," Ezike said.
Not every person responded to the survey, and just a fraction of Illinois residents have been tested for the disease.
The number of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients was at 43% a week ago; that number is at 40% now, Pritzker said. Last week, 29% of COVID-19 patients were on ventilators, compared to 25% as of Tuesday.
The governor was asked about a Chicago poll worker dying of COVID-19 and others contracting the disease during the March 17 primary election, which was not postponed.
Pritzker said he wants the General Assembly to pass legislation to expand mail balloting in Illinois for the Nov. 3 general election.
"I think we may have a good idea that things may not be completely back to normal by November because there may not be a vaccine available," he said.
Pritzker also said his financial team is discussing the hit the state will take from the virus, and he will be reporting to the legislature. So far, Illinois has spent about $168.5 million to combat COVID-19, the Illinois comptroller's office reports.
"No one should mistake that this will be a very, very difficult fiscal challenge," he said.
Pritzker is talking with other Midwestern governors about coordinating a unified response to COVID-19 that could include how to revive local economies without causing a rise in cases of the disease.
President Donald Trump is pushing to reopen commerce across the U.S. by May 1 and said Monday "when somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total. The governors know that."
Pritzker did not address that at the briefing but has repeatedly said he will "rely on science" when it comes to COVID-19 policies.
• Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.