CHICAGO (CBS) — While Illinois now has surpassed 31,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 1,300 deaths, Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that social distancing efforts have “saved thousands of lives.”
The governor also said he’s considering possibly taking a regional approach to reopening the state’s economy, once Illinois is in a position to start modifying the statewide “stay at home” order.READ MORE: Alphonso Joyner, 23, Charged With Shooting And Killing 71-Year-Old Woom Sing Tse In Broad Daylight In Chinatown
The Illinois Department Public Health said there have been 1,151 new cases of coronavirus disease in the past day, including 59 deaths. As of Monday afternoon, Illinois has 31,508 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,349 deaths.
Pritzker also said 4,599 people were hospitalized with novel coronavirus as of Sunday, a 7% increase from five days earlier, and a nearly 25% increase over the past two weeks.
“Our case numbers and our hospitalizations are still rising, even if that rise is slower now. Our curve is bending the right way,” Pritzker said. “Real progress has been made, and while we never know the exact impacts of the efforts all of you have made to protect your communities, all of the projections indicate that you have saved thousands of lives.”
Pritzker said, while the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise, coronavirus patients are taking up a smaller percentage of ventilators and ICU beds at Illinois hospitals.
As of April 6, COVID-19 patients took up 43% of the state’s available 2,300 ICU beds and 29% of the state’s ventilators; as of Sunday, they accounted for 40% of the state’s 3,300 available ICU beds, and 23% of the state’s ventilators, according to Pritzker.
“We are still seeing too many Illinoisans hospitalized with this virus, but because Illinoisans have come together by social distancing, learning at home, and staying at home, we’ve so far prevented our worst-case scenarios,” he said.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Increasing Clouds Wednesday Night, Snow Flurries Possible Thursday Morning
As for his “stay at home” order, which is currently set to expire at the end of the month, Pritzker said he has not yet made a decision on whether it will be extended again, or for how long. As he has said repeatedly over the last few weeks, the governor said any decision about how long that order will stay in place will be based on the recommendations of epidemiologists, and data regarding the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois.
However, he suggested Illinois still isn’t close to lifting the “stay at home” order, noting there still isn’t enough testing for the virus, let alone sufficient contact tracing, or a viable treatment for the disease.
“We need a lot more testing across the country before I think everybody’s going to feel comfortable, including the business owners, and managers, and people who work there, not to mention the customers,” Pritzker said.
The governor said he might take a region-by-region, or even county-by-county approach to reopening the economy, noting that there are significant differences in hospital capacity and population density in various parts of the state.
“There’s a lot of distance, as you can imagine, between people’s homes in rural areas of Illinois,” he said. “So the idea of people going outside and wearing a mask on a property of theirs that might be 100 acres, or 10 acres, is much different than the prospect of somebody on the North Side or the West Side of Chicago going outside and walking on the sidewalk with hundreds of other people.”
The governor said, regardless of the ultimate approach he takes, his priority will be keeping people healthy.MORE NEWS: View Live Radar
“The important thing is that we want to keep people safe, and also give them the ability to do as much as possible without spreading the virus, and so those are the complications. None of this is done on a whim. All of this is done listening to the people who understand the virus, and know how it gets transmitted,” he said.