Illinois’ COVID-19 caseload surpassed 10,000 this weekend. Governor J.B. Pritzker said residents must continue to do their part to slow its spread.
At a daily press conference, the governor had harsh words for those who have either ignored or defied the statewide stay at home order. Public health experts have repeatedly said that’s the best way to stay safe from the virulent disease.
“All I can say is that those people either are not paying attention to the news or they’re stupid,” Pritzker said. “There’s no reason why somebody should be ignoring this.”
68 of Illinois’ 102 counties have seen cases, and more than 240 people have died statewide. Pritzker said preliminary modeling shows the virus may peak by the end of this month, but the timeline for when normal activities will resume remains unknown.
Meanwhile Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois’ public health director, said the virus remains especially dangerous to vulnerable people in places like nursing homes and prisons.
“The natural movement of people needing to come in and out of those settings, even when they’re decreased to the minimum amount, still causes a lot of people moving around and increases the potential for introduction and rapid spread of the virus,” she explained.
Pritzker has continued to criticize the lack of widely available virus testing kits. More widespread testing, he explained, would allow state and local leaders to more quickly know when a population is safe from COVID-19, thus knowing when it would be safe to reopen areas of the state.
“We’re a long way from that, but knowing that in some community you’ve got a large number of people who already had it and recovered would be a very important thing for beginning to put life back to some semblance of normalcy,” Pritzker said.
Ezike and local health experts across the state continue to encourage residents to remain home as much as possible until at least the end of this month. The statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect until then, though that could be extended.
“Although you may not think so, everyone has a role to play and everyone can help,” Ezike said. “By staying home, you reduce the amount of virus spreading in the community. That reduces the chance of someone being infected.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week also recommended wearing face masks when out in public. Gov. Pritzker said he’s personally recommending the move, and explained covering your face is a good idea if you head out to public places like grocery stores.