Illinois set a daily record Thursday for new COVID-19 cases, topping more than 6,300 for the first time and ending a month when all evidence points to the virus galloping unrestrained across nearly every section of the state.
“We’re heading in the wrong direction on every metric,” said Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert and the executive medical director for Infection Prevention and Control at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
The state reported 6,363 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and 56 deaths, bringing the state’s total death toll to 9,675.
But more worrisome are the trendlines that Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration released, showing exponential growth of the virus across Illinois.
Since Oct. 1, COVID-related hospitalizations have jumped 73 percent. Illnesses requiring intensive care treatment grew 61 percent. COVID-linked ventilator use in hospitals was up 63 percent. And the average daily death count was up 82 percent.
“People can disagree about where to draw lines,” Pritzker said. “But when every metric in every corner of our state is trending poorly, we have to take action.”
The governor’s comments came as indoor service at bars and restaurants was suspended in Springfield and western Illinois, effective Sunday, marking yet another swath of the state put under new COVID restrictions by the governor because of the soaring numbers.
That action follows earlier orders by Pritzker’s administration shutting down indoor bar and restaurant service in Chicago, effective Friday, and in Lake and McHenry counties on Saturday. Suspension of those services for bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County took effect Wednesday.
Restaurants and bars in DuPage, Will, Kane and Kankakee counties were required by Pritzker’s administration to suspend indoor service last week.
“It’s not like we have every answer to every question,” Pritzker said at Thursday’s press conference. “I had hoped maybe Illinois, doing as well as we’d been doing, perhaps we wouldn’t see a second wave or new wave of coronavirus. Boy, was I wrong. This is happening across the country.”
Meanwhile, the governor reiterated his hope that high school athletes could play high-contact winter sports next spring after his administration recommended that high school basketball, hockey and wrestling be suspended because of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the Illinois High School Sports Association urged member schools to proceed with their fall and winter sports schedules in open defiance of the governor.
“We’re not shutting them down,” the governor said. “We’ve asked that they be moved to the spring, some later in the spring. What we’re trying to do is get to a point where positivity levels are much lower, where the number of cases in our state is much lower and where, I hope and pray, we’ll have much better treatments and vaccines available.”