Illinois reported an additional 43 deaths Sunday from the coronavirus and the largest one-day increase in coronavirus infections with more than 1,600, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker said even those numbers show signs that the state might be nearing the peak of the outbreak.
In a Chicago news conference which concluded his fourth straight week of daily briefings, Pritzker noted that the increase of 1,672 cases is in part because of increased testing. The number of deaths reported Sunday was the lowest in a week.
He said the numbers show that people are abiding by social distancing and other preventive measures, something he recognized was particularly hard on Easter Sunday, when worshipers accustomed to “traditional celebrations of togetherness” had to watch services online.
“I believe passionately that adapting our expressions of faith in these times is one of the most faithful acts of all,” Pritzker said, “to hold our beliefs steadfast even as we defend ourselves against unprecedented challenges.”
Illinois now has 20,852 known cases of coronavirus, and 720 people have died because of its complications.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and the infirm, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death.
There were nearly 8,000 tests run for the illness in the previous 24 hours, said Pritzker, who believes they must increase to 10,000 daily to track and overcome the pandemic. But he's not confident of a swift re-opening of the economy something President Donald Trump has suggested in at least a limited fashion by as early as May.
Other governors have pushed back against Trump's wishes, and in an interview on CBS' Face the Nation, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, said she agreed.
“We cannot open up the economy until we make sure that we’ve got all the healthcare controls in place," Lightfoot said. "That means widespread testing, contact tracing, and we’ve got to see not just a flattening of the curve, but a bending down.”
Many authorities say that can't happen without the continued business closings, stay-at-home rules, and social distancing protocol. Pritzker started wearing a mask in public last week, the day the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it to limit transmission of the virus, which is spread by droplets projected by talking, sneezing or coughing.
But each day, Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who was given the day off Sunday, enter the briefing room masked, only to take them off when they speak. Pritzker said he and Ezike keep an appropriate distance from each other and others in the room and are careful not to touch their faces after touching the lectern or microphone, which he said are cleaned each day.
“It's important for people to see my face, and for me to be able to project properly,” Pritzker said. “We’re doing it I think in the safest possible way given all the circumstances.”