With coronavirus cases continuing to rise in the state, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday he is "very concerned" about how the upcoming holiday weekend will affect the virus’ spread.
At a Chicago news conference, Pritzker said his concern, as it was during the fourth of July holiday, is people gathering for backyard barbecues, picnics and similar activities.
"We know that much of the spread that’s occurring in Illinois is actually happening in these settings," Pritzker said. "They’re not public settings. They’re often private settings and people often let down their guard, thinking well, I’m at home or someone’s home that I know. The reality is you don’t know where everybody who is there has been."
That’s why, he said, it is still important to wear a mask and maintain social distancing even at those events.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that there are 2,128 new cases of COGVID-19 and 27 additional deaths. That brings the Illinois totals to 238,643 cases and 8,091 deaths.
The seven-day positivity rate is now at 4.5%. As troubling, over the last two weeks, nine of the state’s 11 coronavirus regions have seen positivity rates going up rather than down. One of those regions is in the Metro East area where Pritzker imposed new restrictions this week to control the spread of the virus. Significantly, they included a ban in indoor service at bars and restaurants.
Then west central region, which includes Sangamon County, is one of two in the state that has seen a reduction in the positivity rate.
Pritzker said he won’t hesitate to impose stricter restrictions on areas where the growth in COVID-19 cases is exceeding standards established by IDPH and medical experts. That includes a renewed ban on indoor service in bars and restaurants and limited hours for other types of establishments and on the size of gatherings.
"These are not decisions that I make lightly nor would I impose these restrictions if there wasn’t evidence of recent spread of the virus," he said. "I want our businesses to be open and I want our hospitality scene to thrive. The greatest hindrance to restoring our nation’s economic vitality is the virus. Until we get it under control we are going to be fighting for our economic recovery with one hand tied behind our backs."
Pritzker reiterated that local officials within an area should take their own steps to help control a spike in cases before the state is forced to impose restrictions on an entire region.
The governor said he and many faith leaders will participate in a virtual memorial service Thursday night to honor people who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.
Contact Doug Finke: doug,.email@example.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr