1,231 new COVID-19 cases; normalcy 'six-plus months' off, Pritzker says
Cases of COVID-19 in Illinois increased by 1,231 Monday and deaths from the respiratory disease grew by 18, officials said, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker estimated a return to relative normalcy is "six-plus months" off.
The state's positivity rate from COVID-19 tests climbed to 3.8% based on a seven-day average, representative of a gradual uptick that began last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
That brings the statewide tally to 172,655, and the number of Illinoisans perishing from COVID-19 to 7,416, the IDPH said Monday.
Pritzker urged Illinoisans to use common-sense precautions like wearing masks while visiting Quincy in downstate Adams County, where the average positivity rate is 5%.
"We don't have to do this forever," Pritzker said. "We're seeing there's progress on vaccines and treatments (but) we're not there yet. We're not there yet.
"And frankly, we're not going to be there until 2021, in my humble opinion. We're not going to be able to take off the mask and go about everything we were doing" before the pandemic, Pritzker said, estimating it could take "six-plus months" to reach that stage.
"So let's all work together," he added at a news briefing live-streamed by Quincy TV station WGEM.
The state's daily positivity rate is 4%, based on 30,567 tests.
Patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 reached 1,417 as of Sunday night, which is lower than the seven-day average of 1,445. The last seven-day average (July 13 to 19) was 1,409.
A sustained increase in hospitalizations could result in restrictions being imposed in regions, such as reducing the size of public gatherings.
Meanwhile, the average daily number of new virus cases is 1,038 based on tallies since June 26, when the state transitioned to Phase 4 of a five-stage reopening plan. Phase 4 allowed public gatherings of 50 or less, and indoor dining with capacity limits, for example.
During the more restrictive Phase 3 that lasted May 29 through June 25, average daily cases came to 835.
The state is divided into 11 regions being monitored for COVID-19 conditions and the Metro East region near St. Louis measured a 7.3% positivity rate as of Friday. An 8% positivity rate for three days can trigger restrictions.
Pritzker warned authorities to be vigilant about sources of COVID-19 infections, such as crowds of people socializing, or it could "drive the entire region back to closed bars and restaurants and there will be greater job losses or even another stay at home order."
The governor also said virus hot-spots in states like Florida, Texas, California, Alabama might be affecting how long it takes to get test results from federal laboratories.
Illinois enhanced its state laboratory capacity by partnering with hospitals and universities this spring, and also is working with commercial laboratories. But many tests still are processed at federal facilities.
"I am concerned with lab capacity," Pritzker said. National labs "are overrun now there are spikes in other states. Now there's a bigger waiting list and a longer lag time."