Pritzker: COVID-19 cases likely won’t peak until next month
Illinois may not hit its peak for COVID-19 cases until mid-May, Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday, reinforcing concerns about when the state may begin reopening parts of its economy.
He said the state cannot fully reopen until there are improvements in contact tracing, testing capacity, the supply of personal protective equipment and the availability of treatment.
“We don’t have those things available to us today,” Pritzker said. “And the treatment, of course, is something that’s not in our control.”
He said he will announce changes soon to the state’s stay-at-home order, which is set to expire at the end of the month.
There were 119 COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,468.
Additionally, officials reported 1,551 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 33,059 cases in 96 counties.
A total of 154,997 tests have been completed.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said a survey of confirmed COVID-19 patients found 54 percent of respondents recovered less than two weeks after exhibiting symptoms. After four weeks, 77 percent of respondents said they recovered.
“This is encouraging news and I hope it will strengthen our resolve to continue the very tough sacrifices that we continue to make,” she said.
As of Tuesday, Pritzker said that less than a dozen patients have been treated at the McCormick Place field hospital. He could not provide the total cost for the transition of the convention center into an alternate care facility, but he said most of it was paid for through federal dollars.
The site is set to have 3,000 total hospital beds by this Friday, but Pritzker said they are looking at making adjustments to the plan. The location would still have “significant capacity” just in case of a surge of COVID-19 patients, he said.
“The consequence of being underprepared would be the loss of life and the consequence of being over-prepared would be that we built out more than we may have needed,” Pritzker said. “And nobody can know exactly where we’ll end up until much after we’ve hit the peak and moved off of it.”
Pritzker also announced Tuesday the state received federal approval for their request to provide expanded benefits to nearly 300,000 Illinois families with school-age children through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That will equate to about $112 million in additional food assistance to those families.
Additionally, Pritzker told reporters he does not “feel comfortable at all” with the idea of governing with executive orders, yet it was something that needed to be done to save lives and ensure the state can get through the pandemic.
“There’s so many things that you’ve heard me talk about, the things that I want to accomplish for the people of the state of Illinois and those can’t be accomplished in the context of a pandemic,” Pritzker said.
Lawmakers in states like Wisconsin have sued their governors over executive orders related to stay-at-home orders.
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