Even with several coronavirus vaccines likely to hit the market by the end of the year, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state will “not take our foot off the gas” in continuing to ramp up COVID-19 testing capabilities moving forward.
Pritzker praised the state as one of the nation’s leaders in coronavirus testing models, calling Illinois the “best testing state between the coasts” during a press conference Wednesday in Chicago.
“So even as we look ahead to 2021, here in Illinois, we’re not taking our foot off the gas in our efforts to ramp up testing even further, increasing our ability to identify positive cases quickly so we can eliminate community spread and stop further outbreaks in their tracks,” he said.
Pritzker praised state officials for clearing significant goals in coronavirus testing, with the state cracking 100,000 tests per day on numerous occasions in recent weeks. Pritzker says the state has averaged 96,000 new coronavirus tests per day in the last seven days, calling it a remarkable achievement considering that most of the work to step up those testing efforts has been done on the state level.
“Together with governors of both parties, I have called for a national testing strategy since the early days of this pandemic,” he said. “Such a comprehensive effort would make a tangible difference in our response right now, and I’ve conveyed to the presidential transition team our new hope to see a thorough testing expansion plan at the very start of the new administration.”
The governor says that vaccines, which will be rolled out aggressively in coming weeks and months, will help put an end to the pandemic eventually, but that residents must continue to be vigilant, and that officials must continue to do the hard work necessary to limit the spread of the virus in the intervening time.
“Even with all the well-deserved excitement around a vaccine, it will be months before vaccines are available to the general public,” he said. “So it’s incredibly important that we do everything in our power to temper the spread of this virus in the coming weeks and months. We all want as many people alive and healthy as possible when we get there.”