By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued more warnings Wednesday for businesses that open before executive orders issued during the COVID-19 outbreak expire.
Repeating that businesses that are regulated by the state could have their licensees suspended for opening too soon, the governor added a call for local leaders to step up and prevent citizens from defying the stay-at-home edict that expires at the end of this month and the restrictions in his “Restore Illinois” plan for reopening.
“What I don’t have sympathy for is those so afraid to tell their constituents what they may not want to hear that they put more people’s lives at risk,” Pritzker said. “You weren’t elected to do what’s easy, you were elected to do what’s right.”
Pritzker also said counties that allow businesses to defy the orders may not be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for pandemic-related losses. The governor has control of those funds and the authority to distribute them as he sees fit.
They’re also could be police intervention, he said.￼
“Local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police can and will take action,” Pritzker said. “There is no consequence of the state could impose that is greater than the harm you will do to your own communities.￼”
Meanwhile, Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 1,677 new cases of COVID-19 with 192 additional deaths, 140 of which were reported in Cook County.
The latest Cook County deaths include a male in his teens, a woman in her 30s, three men in their 40s, four women in their 50s, eight men in their 50s, 10 women in their 60s, 21 men in their 60s, 13 women in their 70s, 18 men in their 70s, 15 women in their 80s, 19 men in their 80s, one person in their 80s, gender unknown; 17 women in their 90s; six men in their 90s; and three women older than 100.
Winnebago County reported four deaths–a woman in her 70s, a man in his 70s, a woman in her 80s, and a woman in her 90s, for a total of 39.
As of this report, 1,170 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Winnebago County since the beginning of the outbreak. Statewide, there have been 84,698 cases and 3,792 deaths. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 17,668 tests for a total of 489,359.
Ezike said the recent spike in cases does not mean things are getting worse; she expected the number of infections to grow as the state increased testing capacity. Hospitalization and infection rates gauge where Illinois is on the COVID trajectory. Both are currently trending in the right direction.
“We need to look at our denominator and see that it is a great thing that we are increasing our capacity for testing,” she said. “As you look at the percent positivity, it’s not that our percent positivity it going up. The higher number of cases are because we are testing more people. Overall, our positivity rate is not going up.”
Based on tests processed in the last 24 hours, the positivity rate would be 9.5%. Using numbers from the last seven days, plus a lag time of three days, the positivity rate is 17%.
As of Wednesday, 4,563 people were hospitalized with COVID symptoms. Of those, 1,208 patients were in intensive care. There were 714 patients on ventilators.