CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois is beginning the month of August with the same trend of new COVID-19 cases as it saw at the end of July, with another day of new cases in the four figures.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 1,298 new confirmed coronavirus cases, including 10 additional deaths. It was the 13th day in a row the state reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases.
IDPH reported more than 1,000 daily cases 18 times in July, compared to only twice in June.
The new cases announced Monday came as IDPH reported 28,475 tests for COVID-19 statewide in the past 24 hours, for a one-day positive test rate of 4.6%. The seven-day statewide positive test rate for the past week stands at 4.0%, compared to 3.8% one week ago, and 2.6% at the start of July.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 183,241 cases, including 7,526 deaths.
As of Sunday night, 1,418 virus patients in Illinois were being treated in hospitals, including 347 patients in intensive care, and 132 on ventilators. The statewide COVID-19 hospitalization rates have been relatively flat since late June.
However, Gov. JB Pritzker has warned that the recent upward trend in overall cases and positive test rates could force him to reinstate stricter health guidelines in some regions of the state, such as ordering bars to close, or to mandate that restaurants and other businesses reduce capacity, in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Eleven counties in Illinois — Cass, Gallatin, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, and White — have been placed on a “warning level” for COVID-19, meaning tighter restrictions could be imposed if infection rates and hospitalizations in those counties continue to increase.
The governor said those counties recently have seen outbreaks tied to businesses that aren’t enforcing mask requirements, school graduation parties and other social gatherings, people packing into bars without observing proper distancing, and clusters in long-term care facilities.
“As much as we’d like it, this virus isn’t going away on its own. So we have to take responsibility. We have to take collective and individual action to protect the people that we love,” Pritzker said Monday morning, as his office announced a new public awareness campaign, reminding Illinois residents to wear masks in public.
The $5 million “It Only Works If You Wear It” campaign will include ads on TV, radio, billboards, and social media in communities with the greatest risk from the virus, according to the governor’s office.
“Every day we do things that keep us safe, like buckling a seat belt, or putting on a bicycle helmet. A mask is no different. It only works if you wear it. So always wear a mask when you’re out in public to protect yourself and others. Keeping it in your pocket, or wearing it just around your neck doesn’t work. It’s really that simple. It only works if you wear it,” Pritzker said.
Illinois has required people to wear masks in public since May 1.
“We’ll continue to need them until this pandemic is over,” Pritzker said. “No one is asking you to wear a mask forever, but for the time being, until we see a very effective treatment or a vaccine, the best way to safely get to the other side of this emergency is for all of us to follow the mitigations recommended by doctors: wash your hands, watch your distance, wear a mask whenever you’re out and about.”
Pritzker also addressed the idea of issuing fines for people who do not wear masks. He said it would be a local matter, but he also said he will do whatever it takes to get people to comply.
“People who refuse to wear a mask; people who are entering public premises where they know they’re supposed to wear a mask, and who have been reminded, and who aren’t, those people should be reminded again by police, and ultimately, if they’re absolutely refusing in public, they’re putting other people at risk, so it’s worthy of considering a fine at a local level,” Pritzker said.
We also learned Monday that 85 Chicago Police officers tested positive for COVID-19 during the month of July.
That brings the total number of officer’s who have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic to 677.