As COVID-19 cases statewide surpass 130,000, Republicans seek faster reopening

Cases of COVID-19 rose by 766 Thursday in Illinois, bringing the total confirmed infections statewide to 130,603, officials said amid calls from Republican lawmakers to expedite reopening businesses and services.

The state recorded 91 more deaths from the respiratory disease in the last 24 hours, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

The total number of Illinoisans who have died from COVID-19 is now 6,185. Test results from the last seven days showed a 4% positivity rate.

The latest data came as the Cook County Department of Public Health announced a $41 million state grant to help fund hiring 400 COVID-19 contact tracers.

Meanwhile, state Republicans renewed criticism of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois reopening plan, which has five phases.

On June 26, if health metrics are met, the state will enter Phase 4, or revitalization, which entails loosening more restrictions that were instituted to reduce spread of the disease. Groups of 50 people or fewer would be allowed to gather, triggering a reopening of movie theaters and indoor dining with capacity limits, for example.

The state is currently in Phase 3, which allows groups of 10 people or fewer, and outdoor dining is permitted.

Republican senators in a Wednesday letter to Pritzker asked him to alter the plan so the state shifts into Phase 4 in 14 days, which would be Friday, instead of 28 days.

Illinois is "one of the most restrictive states in the nation," while Wisconsin and Michigan have reopened more businesses and services, lawmakers said.

Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles added in a statement that "individuals and businesses here in Illinois continue to suffer as they watch those in other states reopen their businesses, return to work, and enjoy various activities and gatherings."

Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Restore Illinois was "created by public health experts and relies on lifting mitigation measures in a phased-in approach to ensure there is no rise in case positivity rates or hospitalizations."

Pritzker "is sticking to the plan that led Illinois to being the first state in the nation to hit the federal metrics to reopen," Abudayyeh said.

Among the metrics in the state plan: a 14-day period of test results staying at or under 20% and at least 14% available hospitals beds, plus 28 days of no overall increase in hospital admissions.

On May 28, Pritzker said "the whole purpose of each phase and reason there's a 28-day period involved ... is to monitor (results) when you make changes. One day, two days, seven days, even 14 days isn't enough; we see that in other states.

"It sometimes takes three weeks or even more before you really start to see the effect of an opening up," Pritzker said.

Suburban Republicans who signed the letter included DeWitte, Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove, Sen. Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods, Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove and Sen. Craig Wilcox of McHenry.

The number of daily deaths - 91 - is above the 14-day average of 73. The number of daily cases - 766 - is lower than the two-week average of 1,055.

Individuals interested in a contact tracing job may fill out a statement of interest form at

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