Illinois' health department is considering imposing even more restrictions as the state continues to see record coronavirus numbers and as transmission surges to "drastic levels," Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced.
"I cannot stress enough the severity of our situation," Pritzker said Thursday during his daily press briefing. "IDPH is looking at proposing further regional and statewide restrictions because the rise in cases and hospitalizations is unsustainable."
Among the restrictions under consideration are a return to Phase Three and possibly even Phase Two under the Restore Illinois plan, Pritzker added.
Illinois saw a record-high number of new coronavirus cases Thursday as the state simultaneously crossed a grim milestone and the positivity rate spiked once again.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 9,935 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, a record high for the pandemic so far, along with 97 additional deaths, the highest number since June 4.
The new fatalities lift the statewide death toll above 10,000, reaching 10,030 as of Thursday afternoon. Total cases statewide climbed to 447,491.
The new cases lifted Illinois' rolling seven-day positivity rate rise from 8.5% to 9.1, the highest mark the state has seen since at least late May when the state was on its way down from its first coronavirus cases peak.
In the last week alone, data showed the state's case positivity rate climbed from 6.9% to 9.1%. In the last month, that number has nearly tripled.
"Across the country, we are already seeing states and cities affected by this growing crisis, and they’re responding by rolling back their reopenings. And over in Europe, France, England and Germany are rising so quickly that they’re resorting to much more significant restrictions on all non-essential activities as they, too, face case numbers and hospitalizations rising in at a tragic rate," Pritzker said. "Remember that Europe fared much better than the United States over the last five months, so when they impose those severe mitigations, it’s an indication that the virus is raging out of control there, and we are heading in a similar direction."
Along with the increases in cases and positivity rates, the state has also seen a continued rise in hospitalizations due to the virus. According to IDPH data, 3,891 residents are currently hospitalized because of the virus. Of those patients, 772 are currently in intensive care units and 343 are on ventilators.
"We're getting to the point where we're really concerned," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Thursday. "We're worried that there won't be a bed enough for everyone."
Illinois is currently averaging 3,400 hospitalizations due to coronavirus, well above the 1,500 the state reported at the start of October. Data has also shown a rise in the number of patients in the ICU, which have more than in the last month, Pritzker said.
"If the current trajectory continues, if our hospitals continue to fill up, if more and more people continue to lose their lives to this disease, we’re going to implement further statewide mitigations – which nobody wants to do," Pritzker warned.
He noted that the state is currently seeing new records in testing, but "the rate of growth in our positivity is far outpacing our growth in testing."
The state says 86,015 test results have been returned to state labs in the last 24 hours, with 8,116,728 total tests performed during the pandemic.
"The more we test, the more we are finding people infected with the virus," Pritzker said. "That's awful news. Offsetting that is that we are finding infected individuals earlier, both because people are getting tested when they are contact traced or when they may have been exposed to someone who is sick. Don't wait until you develop symptoms. The earlier you test, the more likely you can limit the spread of the virus to your family, friends or co-workers."
Pritzker warned specific regions, including Region 7, which includes suburban Will and Kankakee counties and is at a 13.4% positivity rate, and Region 1 in northwest Illinois, which is at an "alarming" 15.8% positivity.
"We are headed down a dark, dark path toward where we were last spring," Pritzker said.