Illinois may be flattening the curve; Pritzker warns to “Stay the course”

Governor JB Pritzker speaks during his daily briefing on April 14.

Editor’s Note: In 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

During the statewide daily briefing, Governor JB Pritzker shared hopeful news that some of the state’s data shows a leveling of the curve. He added that the only way to keep that curve from rising or spiking again would be to stay the course.

“Let’s talk about the doubling rate. Why is that important? The higher that number is, the slower your growth, meaning the flatter your curve. At the beginning of this pandemic, our doubling rates were very low. Since we put all of our executive orders in place, Illinois has seen our doubling rates increase substantially. That is a very good thing. On March 22, the rate at which our COVID-19 case count was doubling was around two days. By April 1, that rate had increased to around 3.6 days. As of this Sunday, April 12, our case doubling rate has reached 8.2 days. Similarly, our mortality doubling rate has increased. At the beginning of April, it was at 2.5 days, and it is now at 5.5 days,” he said.

Pritzker continued “To be clear, there is nothing good about twice as many people having this virus, or worse, dying from it, no matter how long the increase takes, but we won’t get to zero cases overnight. The fact that our doubling rate is increasing in every metric is a clear demonstration that there is a deceleration of virus transmission. We are, in fact, bending the curve.”

He addressed hospital capacity across the state. As of April 13, 4,283 known and suspected COVID-19 patients were hospitalized for a total of 23 percent of the stat’s now 30,000 hospital bed capacity.

He also announced that 40 percent of ICU beds in the state were occupied with COVID-19 cases, and 25 percent of the state’s ventilators were in use. Both categories had small percentage drops this past week.

“Both are evidence of positive trends,” he said before adding “This curve may not flatten, and it may go up again if we don’t adhere to the stay at home order. We need to stay the course for now for our efforts to truly remain effective. Let me lay it out more clearly- there is no one who wants our state to open back up more than I do. I want kids to go back to school, and I want parents to go back to work, I want families to enjoy our parks and lakefronts, I want small businesses thriving, restaurants flooded with reservations, job growth to return to their record highs, but no matter what the president may say, I will do what’s best to safeguard the health and safety of Illinois’s residents. That means test, trace, and treat. I’m hoping the president will help us accomplish that, because that’s what will make it safer for people to begin to return to their normal lives. What we have to do is to design a new normal- a way of life to carry us to the other side, and while that day is not here yet, my team and I are working to bring that about, as are experts across the state and the globe. No one looks forward to that day more than I do.”

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said 1,222 new people were diagnosed with the virus, and another 74 lost their lives for a total of 868 deaths, and 23,247 cases of COVID-19 in 88 counties.

The state has sent out electronic surveys to COVID positive patients to check their recovery at seven, 14, 21, and 28 days. For those not responding to the electronic survey, an attempt is made to reach them by phone, which Dr. Ezike said results in success half of the time.

“To share those results, I’m happy to report that of the people who were surveyed at seven days, 44 percent indicated recovery. At 14 days, the number increases to 50 percent. At 21 days after testing positive, we have 61 percent of people who have responded to the electronic survey or telephone call that they no longer have symptoms, and at 28 days, 69 percent of people reported no COVID-19 symptoms and were feeling much better. People are getting better, and are recovering from this disease. It is important to note that not everyone responded to the survey, so potentially, the average could be higher,” she said.

Asking people again to stay the course, Dr. Ezike said “I know many of you are tired of hearing this, but it will make a difference, it has been making a difference, and it will continue to make a difference. If you have to leave your home, please wear a mask, and please keep full distance from other people.

St. Clair County has 220 positive cases out of 954 tested residents. 678Tests have been negative, 75 tests are pending. There are now 11 deaths in the couty, and the most recent death was a female in her 80s with underlying healthcare conditions.

By zip code, 62269 increased to 20 cases, 62208 has 18 cases, 62221 has 22, 62226 has 32, and 62254 data is still not available, which means there are less than five cases in that zip code.

A Swansea police officer has contracted the virus, but so far, the rest of the department shows no signs of spread.

A new tool from the Illinois Comptroller shows that the state has spent $168 million so far on combating the virus. For more information, visit https://illinoiscomptroller.gov/covid19-information/