With warm weather expected in Illinois Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker and Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike pleaded with people to not congregate outside and set back the state's efforts to control the COVID-19 virus.
Pritzker also said it is a good idea to heed advice coming out of Washington to put off grocery shopping and other activities for the next two weeks as the spread of the virus is expected to intensify.
The grim news continued in Illinois Monday with another 1,006 confirmed new cases of the illness and 33 additional deaths. There were 22 deaths in Cook County, with additional deaths reported in DeKalb, Lake and Will counties. Of the total, 24 were people age 60 and over. Ezike said that 70 percent of those who died from the virus had other serious health problems like heart disease, hypertension or diabetes.
Deaths are occurring at a much higher rate among African-Americans. WBEZ radio in Chicago said that 58 percent of the deaths in Cook county -- the area hardest hit by the virus -- have been African Americans even though they make up only 23 percent of the population.
Pritzker said that initially a rumor circulated on social media that blacks were immune from contracting the virus. Now, he said, it appears that inadequate health care because of disinvestment in communities of color may be contributing to the higher death toll.
People are also reading…
To date, there have been 12,262 cases reported and 307 deaths. Jefferson and Wabash counties reported their first cases, pushing the total counties reporting cases to 73.
The Department of Public Health is now showing location of cases by zip code at dph.illinois.gov/cova19/statistics. The information is not available for zip codes with five or fewer cases because of privacy concerns, Ezike said.
Ezike and Pritzker said the public has to continue being vigilant about maintaining distance from others even though the weather is warming up and people will once again be tempted to congregate outdoors.
"Please stay home," Ezike said. "I assure you if people congregate (Tuesday) we will set the state back in our fight against COVID-19."
"Please do not head to the lake front," Pritzker said. "Please do not go congregate in a park. It's fine if you have a backyard to go into but do not go meet people. Do not."
Pritzker said that Dr. Deborah Birx, who chairs President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, had sound advice when she said people should avoid going to the grocery store or doing other activities during the next two weeks as cases of the virus are expected to accelerate.
"If you can stock, people should try to stock up for a period of time if you can," Pritzker said. "The less interaction people have the more likely it is we will be bending the curve. We are already seeing some evidence that what we've done with the stay at home order has had an impact."
Bending the curve means slowing the rate at which new cases of COVID-19 are confirmed.
Pritzker also said he is constantly reviewing if additional steps should be taken to further restrict possible transmission of the virus, like restricting the hours essential businesses can be open.
"We try to look at all of these things all of the time," he said. "You want to balance people's civil liberties and our need to stay at home and defeat this virus."
Both Ezike and Pritzker renewed their call for people of all faiths to avoid attending religious services in person even though Easter, Passover and Ramadan are all about to be observed. They said people should use technology to attend services via computer link or some other method to avoid contact.
As he has on other occasions, Pritzker criticized the dearth of medical equipment the state has received from the federal government. Whether masks, gowns, ventilators or other equipment, what is being received from the federal government isn't nearly enough to keep up with demand. In just 10 days, he said, medical teams in Illinois can go through 1.5 million N95 masks, 25 million gloves, 4.4 million gowns and 700,000 surgical masks.
"The product we've received from the federal stockpile will last only a handful of days in the multi-month battle," Pritzker said.
Pritzker said it is because of the efforts of his staff manning the phones to seek supplies of protective gear outside of Washington that the state even has the supply that it does.
Illinois will be getting medical assistance from the military that Pritzker said the state needs and appreciates. Although Washington said the military personnel would be used at the Alternate Medical Facility in McCormick Place, Pritzker said he wasn't sure where they would be stationed.