Though Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois will likely not see the coronavirus surge from Thanksgiving yet, officials sent a message to people who traveled or gathered with family amid the pandemic.
"For anyone who traveled or gathered with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, monitor yourself for symptoms and, if you have any, stay home," Pritzker said. "Even if you think you are having allergies or experiencing what feels like a mild cold, [the Illinois Department of Public Health] recommends that you stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact with other people – that includes those in your household."
He reminded that if people did not travel for the holiday, now is not the time to visit with friends and family who did.
IDPH recommended that people who traveled for the holiday, if asymptomatic, get tested between five and seven days upon return, meaning Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Anyone experiencing symptoms, IDPH recommends they get tested immediately.
"This is the time to be extra careful. With a surge of the virus expected, limit
your mobility outside your home and stay home if you don’t feel well," Pritzker said.
The governor urged people to stay home the next few weeks even if people are "feeling well," telling people to assume they were exposed to the virus by family, friends or co-workers.
Citing national health experts who've expressed concerns over the possibility of a post-Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases, Pritzker issued a stern warning to residents Monday, saying the state's health care system could become overwhelmed if Illinoisans aren't careful.
Despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as pleas from health officials to celebrate virtually, large crowds and lines formed for several days at O’Hare International Airport as travelers departed Chicago for the holiday weekend.
At his daily coronavirus briefing Monday, Pritzker said no region will be downgraded from Illinois' Tier 3 mitigations in the upcoming weeks, even if they meet the threshold to move to other levels.
Pritzker said he came to the decision after discussions with local health experts and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who told the governor "this is no time to pull back on mitigations," with the nation gearing up for another potential surge.
While statewide metrics have offered a "hint of potential progress," Illinois officials said, the number of hospitalized patients fighting COVID-19 is 23% higher than the state's spring peak.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of IDPH, has said the first sign of an additional surge will be an increase in cases one to two weeks after Thanksgiving.
Pritzker added he hopes Illinois can fend off the surge in the next few weeks in order to get to a healthier holiday time in the second half of December.
"We are still very much in a precarious place, and we have got to take the time to
evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments," he said.