With coronavirus cases and positivity rates surging in the state of Illinois, officials are urging residents not to allow themselves to let their guard down in the fight to curb the spread of the virus.
Speaking during a press conference Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged residents to “pick their guard” back up, saying that individual action will be critical to helping push back against the spread of the virus in recent weeks.
“If you’re getting tired and you’ve let your guard down, now is the time to pick it back up,” Pritzker said during a press conference Monday. “Things are now getting worse. Now is the time to wear a mask wherever you go, get your flu shot, forego unnecessary trips or gatherings, and take extra care to stay six feet away from others, especially in public.”
In remarks made Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed similar sentiments.
“I understand that a lot of sacrifices have been made over these many months, and I understand the fatigue factor that people have,” she said. “But folks, given what we’re seeing, and the incredible escalation of the rates of cases every day, this is not a time where we can indulge in COVID-19 fatigue. This is a time for us to be more diligent and more determined to fight this deadly disease.”
Pritzker and Lightfoot’s warnings come as the state of Illinois sees a significant surge in both coronavirus cases and positivity rates. The state has reported more than 25,000 new cases of the virus in the last seven days, a new record for a seven-day span. The state also reported that its seven-day positivity rate has surged upward to 5.4%, the highest that number has been since early June.
The positivity rates have increased in all 11 healthcare regions in Illinois, leading to additional mitigations and rules in Region 1 in northwestern Illinois and Region 5 in southeastern Illinois. Region 7, comprised of Will and Kankakee counties, and Region 8, comprised of Kane and DuPage counties, could also see additional restrictions this week.
Even with those metrics and numbers, Pritzker says the state is well equipped to handle surges in cases.
“Our greatest asset at this point is an ability to understand the exact areas of concern around our state through widespread contact tracing, meaning unlike in the spring, we can operate with a much more targeted approach in responding to outbreaks,” the governor said.
Pritzker cited the state’s rapid increases in testing capability, with state labs reporting nearly 900,000 tests in the last two weeks alone, and more evolved techniques in helping to treat COVID-19 patients, as hospitalizations and ICU usage remain far below levels reached during the peak of the virus earlier this year.
Even with the state considering additional measures and implementing new technologies and techniques, nothing can replace person buy-in to mitigations and procedures, officials say, and those officials are urging the public to buy into facial coverings and other safety actions.
“Your actions do matter,” Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “If you wear your mask and you keep your distance, you will help stop the spread of this virus.”
Lightfoot agreed, calling this moment a “critical inflection point” in the state’s fight against the coronavirus.
“It’s time for us now to make some changes,” she said. “This is a time for each of us to dig down even deeper and to be more diligent. If we don’t see a dramatic turnaround in our numbers, we will not hesitate to take the steps that are necessary to save our city and to save our residents.”