As more state residents grow restless of having to abide by Illinois’ stay-at-home order, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is urging patience to help prevent a surge of new cases.
During his Monday press briefing, Pritzker said that he is concerned about better weather encouraging people to go outside and to congregate, which could help spark a new wave of the virus.
“If people don’t follow the plan, or if people don’t wear face coverings when they’re out in public as directed, more people are going to get coronavirus,” he said. “We have beautiful days that are coming up throughout the summer and people want to be outside wherever they are in the state. They want to be together gathering, and we just want them to do everything they can to keep themselves safe.”
While the state is still on pace to move to its next phase of reopening by the end of this month, Pritzker has warned that any significant surge in cases and hospitalizations could cause the state to re-institute restrictions in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
The governor is also concerned about a potential surge in cases in the fall, echoing the concerns of scientists and epidemiologists who have suggested that a surge in COVID-19 cases, along with the yearly rise in flu cases, could overwhelm health systems.
“I am concerned about all of the warnings that have been given by epidemiologists about the potential surge this fall,” he said. “If people don’t learn the lessons over the summer that we’ve learned over the past couple of months and we hit a fall surge, we’re going to be in big trouble.”
In mid-April, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, echoed similar concerns.
“I think we should be concerned, obviously,” she said. “We know fall is traditionally an established time for flu outbreaks, and if there was supposed to be any resurgence of COVID-19, we can see why it would be at that time.”
The CDC estimated that there were between 24,000 and 62,000 flu-related deaths in the United States between Oct. 2019 and April 2020. Between 39 and 56 million flu cases were believed to have occurred during that time.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in the U.S., the CDC says that nearly 1.5 million cases of the virus have been reported, along with 89,407 deaths.