CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois had its smallest single-day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in nearly two months on Wednesday, with 1,111 new virus cases in the past 24 hours. However, the state also had 160 new deaths reported in the past day.
Gov. JB Pritzker said, as of Wednesday afternoon, Illinois has had 113,306 confirmed cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, including 5,083 deaths.
“These are real people whose lives came to an end because of this pandemic. They are grandparents, and uncles, and aunts, and parents, cousins, children, friends. They had whole lives that were cut short, because COVID-19 knows no boundaries, and only seeks to destroy. We can never forget that,” Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing.
One day earlier, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike explained that reports of new cases and deaths are often lower on the first business day after a weekend, as there is typically a lag in reporting of new cases confirmed by hospitals over the weekends. Public health officials also have repeatedly said new COVID-19 deaths will lag behind new confirmed cases.
The 1,111 new cases since Tuesday is the lowest one-day total in Illinois since April 6.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has conducted 803,973 virus tests. In the past 24 hours, 17,179 COVID-19 tests have been conducted statewide, with a 6.57% positivity rate.
“The vast majority of those individuals who tested positive have already recovered, or are experiencing a mild enough case that they’re recovering at home,” Pritzker said.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state currently has a 92% recovery rate for confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“What we’re trying to do is to make sure that people understand that when you get COVID-19, it is not a death sentence. When you get COVID-19, in fact, about 80% of people who get COVID-19 are experiencing mild symptoms to moderate symptoms, and then recover,” Pritzker said. “It’s really 20%, or so, get it and have something more serious. That doesn’t mean they’re going to a hospital, necessarily, but I think all of us at this point knows somebody who has had COVID-19 who has been sick at home, and had a hard time, and then recovered. Also, some of us know people who have had to go in the hospital, and then have passed away.”
The state’s recovery rate calculates the number of people who have tested positive for the virus, and have survived at least 42 days after their test.
As of Tuesday night, 3,829 coronavirus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals; including 1,031 in intensive care, and 592 on ventilators.
Although all of Illinois is on pace to move to the next phase of reopening by Friday, Pritzker said it’s unlikely nursing homes will be able to allow visitors anytime soon. The state’s nursing homes have prohibited visitors since early March, because the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as heart problems are so vulnerable to the virus.
“The CDC is telling every state that this may be one of the last things in dealing with COVID that will happen, is new visitors or visitors being able to come back into those facilities, because it is precisely from those visitors – even those who are asymptomatic, who may not think that they have COVID-19 – that you get an outbreak,” Pritzker said.
The governor also said the state is continuing to ramp up contact tracing efforts. He said, as of Wednesday, about 30% of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois are engaged in a contact tracing. He wants to get that number to 60%, hopefully before the end of August.
“It’s going to take us weeks and weeks. I can’t tell you how long. I mean, some people think it will take through August to do it. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do it much faster than that, but as we fast as we can, we’re getting the dollars out to the counties, so that they can do the hiring that they need,” Pritzker said. “You might say why not 100%? Because there are many people who don’t want to be contacted, who never will answer the phone, you know, lots of reasons. Some people who are COVID positive, who won’t give you names.”
The state is working with local public health departments to make sure they get funding for contact tracing efforts, so they can hire the necessary staff. He said the state also wants to make sure people who are required to isolate for 14 days can get hotel rooms if needed, and to get services they might need, like groceries, medication, and more.