Note: Press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the video player above.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered a warning to regions seeing increases in positivity rates Wednesday, urging local officials to step in to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus and avoid the implementation of further mitigations.
That warning came as the state issued new guidance for schools preparing to start the school year as the pandemic rages on.
Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the state today, Aug. 13:
Illinois Surpasses 200K Coronavirus Cases With More Than 1,800 Reported Thursday
The state of Illinois reported 1,834 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, along with 24 additional deaths attributed to the virus. Those figures lifted the statewide total number of cases to more than 200,000 since the pandemic began.
According to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now recorded a total of 200,427 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 7,696 fatalities reported.
Over the last 24 hours, the state has reported 46,006 new tests, an increase from a day earlier. That brings the total number of tests performed in the state to 3,235,807.
Those new test results drop the state's seven-day positivity rate just slightly to 4%, from 4.1% the day before.
In terms of hospitalizations, Illinois has 127 patients currently on ventilators. A total of 383 patients are currently in intensive care units with 1,628 hospitalized with coronavirus in the state.
The news comes as several areas of the state see spikes in positivity rates and in case numbers. Five of Illinois' 11 health care regions are reporting increases in positivity rates, Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Wednesday, cautioning that the state is at a "make or break moment" in the fight against the pandemic.
Pritzker to Announce First Round of Business Interruption Grants
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce the first round of Business Interruption Grants during appearances in two cities Thursday, according to his public schedule.
First, Pritzker will be joined by local leaders at 10 a.m. at Wood N' Hog BBQ in Urbana, his office says. Next, he will stop at the YMCA in Bloomington at 12 p.m.
Both events can be watched live in the video player above.
Illinois Health Department Releases New Coronavirus Guidance for Schools
The Illinois State Board of Education and the state's public health department on Wednesday released new guidance for schools as they prepare for the start of the new school year during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new guidance offers a more detailed look at how schools should handle various situations, such as if a student gets sick, or when to close down a building.
Here's a look at some of the frequently asked questions and the latest answers, which officials note are "subject to change based on new information and updates to existing CDC guidance."
Click here to see more.
5 Illinois Regions Seeing Increases in Positivity Rate, Pritzker Says
Several Illinois regions are reporting increases in their positivity rates, prompting a warning from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
"Across the state, our 11 Restore Illinois regions are trending in different directions, the majority of which are negative," Pritzker said Wednesday.
The regions seeing increases in positivity rates as of Tuesday were 2, 3, 4, 7, and 9 - three of which include multiple Chicago-area counties. Meanwhile, regions 1, 5, 10 and 11, which includes Chicago, held steady with the same average as one week ago and regions 6 and 8, which include some western Chicago suburbs, saw slight declines.
"I want to emphasize again that local officials should pay close attention to the data for their communities and where necessary step up and impose greater mitigations on a targeted basis to bring down the number of infections and the positivity rate. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the state will be forced to step in and roll things back on a regional basis – something none of us wants."
Pritzker Says Mask Mandate Applies Even While 'Outside and Walking Around'
Illinois' mask mandate applies "even outside," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday, noting that residents should still be wearing masks even if they're just walking down the street.
"Even outside, if you're outside and walking around and can't maintain social distance - which by the way, on a typical busy street in the city of Chicago, you can't maintain social distance without a mask, you just can't," Pritzker said. "People walking by each other that you're coming in close proximity to, someone who, by the way, is facing you and people in front of you who might be aspirating or they might be coughing or, you know, sneezing or whatever - those particles remain in the air. And if you don't wear a mask, and if they're not wearing a mask, then there is a much easier ability to transmit the virus."
Pritkzer noted that the statewide mask mandate doesn't only apply to public spaces indoors. He added that the outdoor concerns still matter in rural parts of the state, as well.
"It's very important even in rural areas of Illinois. If you're going to another area, town, you know, like a business or gathering spot for people in your area and (if) you're going to be in close proximity with people, then wear a face cover," he said.
Chicago, Illinois Facing a ‘Make or Break' Moment to Avoid New Coronavirus Outbreaks: Pritzker
Calling it a “make or break moment” for Chicago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that recent increases in coronavirus numbers illustrate the need to take concerted action to keep the city from returning to a place where it is once again a hotspot for the coronavirus.
Pritzker, hosting a coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday, was asked about a recent report that indicated that Chicago was one of several major cities that could see a spike in coronavirus cases in coming months if mitigation efforts aren’t undertaken quickly.
“You’ve seen me and heard me say that this is a make or break moment for Illinois and the city of Chicago. We’re doing everything we can in this process,” he said.
The governor was specifically asked about models published by PolicyLab, a think tank at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Those models, whose findings were published in the Daily Beast, predicted that Chicago, Baltimore and Boston all could potentially become coronavirus hotspots as the country moves into autumn.
According to models published by PolicyLab, residents of the Chicago metro area are not “social distancing at anything near the rate needed to curb the spread” of coronavirus, and also cited modest, but not sufficient, reductions in visits to non-essential businesses, as the basis for their theory that Chicago could see a spike in cases.
While Chicago isn’t seeing the type of positivity rate increases that other areas of the state are, increasing from 4.8% to 5% over the last two weeks, Pritzker says that keeping ahead of the curve in terms of a spike in cases is a key to avoid fresh outbreaks in an area.
“We’re encouraging local efforts at mitigations, because that can have an enormous impact,” he said. “That’s why the rule we got passed is so important. That’s one more step in a series of steps along a path to make sure we don’t become a hotspot.”
That new rule will allow local law enforcement and health departments to give warnings to businesses violating state coronavirus orders, including mask mandates and social distancing guidelines. The rule was upheld by a group of Illinois legislators this week, paving the way for businesses to be assessed fines if they fail to comply with the restrictions.
Illinois Reports 1,645 New Coronavirus Cases and 16 Deaths Wednesday
The state of Illinois reported 1,645 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, along with 16 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now recorded a total of 198,593 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 7,672 fatalities reported.
Over the last 24 hours, the state has reported 42,098 new tests, an increase from a day earlier. That brings the total number of tests performed in the state to 3,189,801.
Those new test results keep the state's seven-day positivity rate steady at 4.1%.
In terms of hospitalizations, Illinois saw numbers in all metrics increase from Tuesday, with 129 patients currently on ventilators. A total of 357 patients are currently in intensive care units with 1,525 hospitalized with coronavirus in the state.