Pritzker calls for more testing, addresses reopening restaurants, schools, and sports

These are the Restore Metrics for the Southern Region, according to Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. These metrics were updated by Illinois Department of Public Health on May 8. (Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Public Health.

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

As Illinois cases continue to rise, Governor JB Pritzker spoke about reopening restaurants and schools, and holding games for professional sports. The governor also continued to applaud the state’s efforts in testing for COVID-19 while also saying there needs to be more.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced that in the past 24 hours, there are 2,887 new cases, which makes the state total 73,760 total confirmed cases. 130 additional people lost their lives, for a state total of 3,241 deaths.

There are 4,750 COVID patients hospitalized, 25 percent, 1,222 patients in ICU 727 on ventilators 20, 671 in the last 24 hours for a positivity rate of about 14 percent.

Looking at overall statistics, Dr. Ezike said there is a continuum of people who are infected, and then are hospitalized, then those that are in the ICU or on ventilators, and ultimately those who then die from the virus, and she believes the numbers are proportional.

The doctor then outlined how the public health departments conduct contact tracing, which includes interviewing the infected person to find out where they’ve been and who they’ve been around. The departments then contact the exposed parties to see how they are feeling and determine if they need testing.

Confidentiality is required by federal HIPAA laws, so she said those conducting the tracing have to be very careful in how they ask questions. Ezike said that in small businesses or tiny towns, it can be difficult to maintain confidentiality versus the greater good.

Speaking about testing across the state , Gov. Pritzker said “Testing is fundamental to our ability to reopen the economy while controlling the spread of the virus – that’s what it takes to keep the public safe. The progress we’ve made on testing over the last two months – building a statewide testing program from scratch to around 15,000 per day – is tremendous. We now have 244 public testing sites across the state, up from 177 on April 30 and 112 on April 24.”

He continued “Our seven state drive-thru sites at Markham, Bloomington, Harwood Heights, Rockford, Aurora, Waukegan, and East St. Louis are now collectively taking over 3,000 specimens per day.

As of May 6th, Illinois ranks second among the ten most populous states in the number of tests completed per capita over the last seven days, and Illinois is fifth among all 50 states in total tests completed since the beginning of this pandemic. Even if we’re one of the best states in the nation on testing, we know it’s not enough to be where we need to be on a longer timeframe. I’m committed to continuing our success because it’s fundamental to our economic future and to keeping Illinoisans safe from this virus.”

When asked about the governor’s plan and the reopening of restaurants, which would occur in Phase 4 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan, he said he understands restaurants are devastated and he does think they need support. “In terms of why the epidemiologists have seen restaurants as more difficult to open than other kinds of small shops, my understanding of it is that because it’s very difficult to socially distance as between a server and the food, the server, the food, and delivery of the food to the table. It’s also difficult to even seat people at tables the way they normally are configured in a six foot distance for everyone sitting at a table. That’s my understanding of why, and I think you can add to that the dishwasher and the chef in the back, the bartender and so on. Just the number pf people coming in contact with the thing being delivered to you and it can’t be delivered in socially distant way….That doesn’t mean it can never happen. It does mean that we want to make sure when it does get phased in that there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve quite so many interactions, and/or that we’ve seen the effect of all the industries that will reopen.”

He added “I know restaurateurs want to do the right thing and will work very hard to make sure the sanitary conditions are right.”

Speaking about professional sports and whether he would allow Illinois teams to play in other states, Pritzker said he hopes that games can be played here, however various leaders in the professional sports have told the governor that they would not allow fans until Phase 5, which includes either a vaccine or a readily available and developed treatment plan. Until that point, games would simply be televised.

Addressing schools opening in the fall, he said “That is my hope and desire…. I think you’ve got to do planning for reopening in the fall. None of us knows what the future exactly holds, but I think we have great hope and desire for reopening schools when they usually would.”

St. Clair County

3,057 residents have been tested, and 694 residents were positive for COVID-19. The 27 new cases are males and females from teens to 80s. 2,292 tests were negative, and 71 test results are pending. There are still 55 deaths, which is no change from yesterday.

There are 51 COVID-19 related patients in the county, with eight of those patients on ventilators.

Zip Code Totals: 62201-12 / 62203-24 / 62204-31 / 62205-32 / 62206-62 / 62207-38 / 62208-38 / 62220-65 / 62221-57 / 62223-38 / 62226-83 / 62232-8 / 62239-10 / 62254-19 / 62257-7 / 62258-14 / 62269-57 / 62285 -6

St. Clair County Congregate Living Facilities in Outbreak Status: BRIA of Belleville – 20 cases and 2 deaths / BRIA of Cahokia – 5 cases and 0 deaths / Caritas Family Solutions (Belleville) – 6 cases and 0 deaths / Colonnade – 3 cases and 0 deaths / Four Fountains – 79 cases and 13 deaths / Help at Home (O’Fallon) – 5 cases and 0 deaths / Lebanon Care Center – 34 cases and 7 deaths / Memorial Care Center – 43 cases and 5 deaths / St. Paul’s Home – 5 cases and 1 death / TDL Incorporated (Belleville) – 4 cases and 0 deaths