IDPH director says Illinois is at war

Ezike said Illinoisans have choices and responsibilities as cases, deaths rise

“I know that some places are more open in a limited capacity, maybe you see your friends out, maybe people are congregating, but lets still take our personal responsibility,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike. (Photo courtesy live stream at coronavirus.illinois.gov)

Editor’s NoteIn an effort to keep the public informed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have removed the paywall from this article. All listed data is pulled directly from IDPH and St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency. There may be discrepancies between the reported statistics. 
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By: Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor

Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike said that Illinois is at war with an invisible enemy. As fatalities hit a single day record and Governor JB Pritzker unveiled his plan to return Illinois to a semblance of normal, the doctor urged residents to take personal responsibility.

Dr. Ezike shared that in the past 24 hours, 13,139 tests have been run showing 2,122 new cases of COVID-19, and 176 fatalities. The state has run a total of 346,286 tests, has 65,962 cases of the virus, and a total of 2,838 fatalities.

She briefly shared recovery rates as 47 percent of people being recovered 14 days after their positive test, and 74 percent of people reporting no symptoms and feeling recovered 28 days after their positive test.

Statewide, there are 4,780 COVID and COVID probably patients hospitalized. 1,266 patients are in ICU beds, and 780 patients are on ventilators.

After sharing the statistics, Dr. Ezike said there appeared to be a shift when May began, not only in calendar date and weather, but also in psyche. “The change has highlighted an increased sense of cabin fever and the desire to get out and get back to what people perceive as what their previous normal was, and wanting that so much. There’s so much pressure for us to get back to that normal because we have all faced this unprecedented disruption to our lives.”

She continued “The truth is we’re still in a significant war with an enemy. If this was a traditional war where there were soldiers outside of our doors in the streets and people would be risking their lives outside their homes, no one would think about the need to go to work, no one would think about getting their dog groomed, no one would think about getting their car washed. But this enemy is so different-it’s invisible, and maybe as a result of that, we have underestimated the power and the destruction of this enemy, despite the very visible fact that more than 2,500 have lost their lives in just two months. That’s an unprecedented amount of lives lost compared to any time within our Illinois history.”

The doctor said Illinoisans have choices to make, and responsibilities to bear. “I know that some places are more open in a limited capacity, maybe you see your friends out, maybe people are congregating, but lets still take our personal responsibility. You are responsible to wear a covering if you’re out in public. You are responsible for helping protect elderly individuals, who can suffer the most severe consequences from catching this virus. You are responsible for finding other ways to still connect with these individuals who do need connection but cannot have physical contact. You are responsible for staying inside as much as possible. The fact is we are still battling the same virus that we were all so united and fighting just two months ago. It’s the same virus that disproportionately kills older individuals, that targets people with diabetes, obesity, or heart disease. And news flash- many of us have these comorbidities, making a large portion of the population at risk,” she said.

Dr. Ezike said that while there have been advancements, there is still no cure and no vaccine for the virus, and testing is still not at the level it should be despite huge increases. She also acknowledged that the Stay at Home order was hurting some families.

“We are very conscientious that there are people who cannot pay their bills, and they cannot provide for their families, and that is extremely distressing, and I understand that this is what leads to some people taking their chance against the virus rather than continually lose income, but when they take that chance, it has repercussions for others who may not have been able to make that same choice. Right now there are a lot of unknowns. In some cases, there are more questions than answers, and it’s due to this novel virus, but we’re working on how best to respond. My commitment is to you that we will continue to follow the data, and we will make the best recommendations based on that data. And it will be incumbent on you as individuals to follow those recommendations. If there are signs that we are headed in the wrong direction, I will make sure to sound the alarm as soon as possible, and we will have to make whatever course correction is necessary. We are still in this together. Please continue to do your part for all of Illinois,” said Dr. Ezike.

An alarm sounded by the doctor could be a signal to step back in Gov. Pritzker’s phased plan that would allow regions to reopen in different stages based on regional data. IDPH will work hand in hand with the governor’s office and local health departments to determine when a region has reached the appropriate phase before restrictions will be lifted.

This five phased plan was introduced by Governor Pritzker after Dr. Ezike spoke at the May 5 presser. (Photo courtesy Gov. Pritzker)

St. Clair County

According to the St. Clair County Health Department, the county now has 593 confirmed cases of the virus and 50 deaths. The new cases range in age from the teens to the 80s, and the most recent death was a male in his 80s with underlying health conditions.

2,449 residents have been tested with 1,807 negative tests, and 49 tests pending result.

Hospitalization continues to increase with 60 COVID patients in county hospitals, and six of those patients on ventilators.

St. Clair County long term congregate living facilities in outbreak status

BRIA of Belleville: 12 cases, 2 deaths

BRIA of Cahokia: 5 cases, 0 deaths

Caritas Family Solutions (Belleville): 6 cases, 0 deaths

Colonnade of O’Fallon: 3 cases, 0 deaths

Four Fountains (Belleville): 63 cases and 12 deaths

Help at Home (O’Fallon): 5 cases, 0 deaths

Memorial Care Center (Belleville): 43 cases, 5 deaths

St. Paul’s Home: 5 cases, 1 death

Lebanon Care Center: 34 cases, 5 deaths