During his daily coronavirus press briefing, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that modelling data now indicates that the state may not hit the so-called "peak" in the coronavirus pandemic until as late as mid-June.
Originally, state officials had hoped to hit a peak in April, but that timeline has now been broadened due to new modeling data.
“Compared to the forecasts I shared on April 23, the timeframe of plateauing near a peak has been expanded from mid-May into mid-June,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said that the state has made progress in its fight to slow the spread of COVID-19, but that the progress has only helped to flatten the curve of the virus and potentially lengthen the time that numbers will plateau, rather than causing a decline in numbers statewide.
“On a statewide basis, we haven’t passed our peak yet,” he said. “We’ve seen more stability in our numbers, but we’re not seeing significant declines in key metrics, including hospitalizations.”
While Pritzker admitted that the news about the potential peak of the virus not hitting until the middle of next month is “disheartening” in many ways, there is reason for optimism because of the expanded timeline.
“This does signal success,” he said. “A pushing out of our estimated ‘peak’ is a natural consequence of flattening the curve. Pushing the peak down and therefore to a longer timeframe might not sound like good news, but I promise you, it is saving lives.”
Pritzker said that hospitals around the state have sufficient capacity to handle COVID-19 cases as part of the phased reopening plan the state has implemented, and that is good news as doctors and scientists continue to work on treatments and, ultimately, a vaccine.
“Remember, you can’t stop this virus without a vaccine, so what we’ve been aiming to do since early March is slow down the exponential rate of transmission,” he said. “When we do that, it leads to a slower rate of infections over a larger period of time, giving our healthcare system the ability to treat those who have complications and giving our pharmaceutical researchers time to develop effective treatments and a vaccine.”
Pritzker said that the temptation may be there to ease restrictions by the end of May, but that doing so would jeopardize the progress that the state has made in fighting the spread of the virus.
“Lifting all of our mitigations at the end of May would likely lead to a second wave of outbreak in each and every one of the four regions,” he said.