Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that models predict coronavirus cases in Illinois may peak sometime in mid-May, a date later than initially forecast thanks to social distancing and the state's stay-at-home order.
"We have not peaked," Pritzker said in an interview with the Washington Post that was broadcast on the newspaper's Facebook page.
"We were the second state in the United States to put forward our stay-at-home rule and people have really been abiding by it for the most part," he continued. "And so the result of that has been the pushing out of what had been anticipated to be a peaking in the middle or near the end of April. So it's been pushed out now, according to the models, to maybe mid-May, but at a lower level, and so we're moving, inching toward that date."
"People are doing what they need to do in the state of Illinois, staying indoors or staying at home, wearing masks outside as I've urged everybody to do, making sure they're washing their hands, and all the other things that we've asked people to do, so the result is that we've had many fewer deaths than were anticipated, our hospitalization rate is somewhat stable, climbing a little bit but somewhat stabilizing, and of course, our ventilator needs have gone down," Pritzker said.
This appeared to be the first time Pritzker had given a new timeframe for the state's peak in cases, though he gave details on the hospitalization rates and other numbers on Monday, saying Illinois and its residents had prevented the worst case scenarios by staying home and taking other precautionary measures.
At his daily coronavirus press briefing on Monday, Pritzker said without social distancing, Illinois would have exceeded its hospital capacity by more than 25,000 beds on April 6.
Citing data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Pritzker said the state instead reported 3,680 coronavirus hospitalizations on April 6, a total of 4,020 on April 10 and 4,599 hospitalizations on April 19.
When it comes to intensive care unit beds, Pritzker stated hospitals have worked to expand bed capacity in recent weeks. In the beginning of April, coronavirus patients occupied approximately 43% of the state's 2,700 ICU beds, while as of Monday, 1,239 patients had occupied 40% of the state's 3,100 ICU beds, according to state health department data.
As for ventilators, the number of coronavirus patients on ventilators has continued a downward trend since the beginning of April — approximately 29% of hospitalized patients were using ventilators on April 6 compared to 23% as of Monday.
"Had we not established mitigation measures, by now we would have needed thousands more ventilators beyond our existing capacity," Pritzker said Monday.
The governor added that all projections indicate Illinoisans have saved thousands of lives, and the coronavirus curve appears to be bending the right way.
"With the current mitigation strategies in place, we may not have reached our peak yet, but your actions are helping to keep that peak as low as possible," Pritzker said.
Pritzker also acknowledged that the numbers of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate than in previous weeks.
An additional 1,151 coronavirus cases and 59 more deaths were reported Monday, increasing the total number of cases to 31,508 with 1,349 deaths.