Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday he was “cautiously optimistic” that the state was making real progress in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus took another 43 lives in Illinois in the last 24 hours, officials said. That brought the state’s death toll in the pandemic to 720, as the number of COVID-19 victims across the country surpassed 20,000.
Although the new deaths left him “deeply saddened,” Pritzker said it appeared the spread of the coronavirus in Illinois was slowing.
“Today is one more piece of evidence that it may indeed be happening,” the governor. “The death toll today is lower than it has been in six days. I pray as we move forward that these trends continue, and if they do, it will be because of all of you adhering to our stay-at-home order.”
Pritzker issued that order on March 20.
“Our hopes have been coming to fruition,” he said, adding that the state should “stay the course” when it comes to practicing social distancing.
The highest daily death tolls came on Wednesday, with 82 victims, and on Saturday, when officials reported 81 additional deaths.
The 43 deaths disclosed on Sunday were the lowest such figure since state officials reported 33 new victims on Monday.
“I’m optimistic, I guess, or I’m at least cautiously optimistic is a better way to say that – that we’ll see numbers like this going forward,” Pritzker said. “Bouncing around but not going up and up the way we saw them before.”
On Sunday, officials reported 1,672 new cases of the coronavirus, for a total of 20,852 cases in Illinois. Pritzker said the higher number of new cases was due to more daily testing, which is approaching 8,000 in the state. The governor’s goal is 10,000 tests per day.
Pritzker said he was encouraged that more tests for the coronavirus have been completed, and that the percentage of people who have tested positive was not rising.
- Pritzker thanked Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, for delivering 100,000 N95 masks to Illinois. “We are very grateful for their generosity and for the generosity of so many companies near and far,” the governor said.
- The governor praised the people of the state for refraining from attending church services on Easter. “I know how hard it is to break from traditional celebrations of togetherness, but I believe passionately that adapting our expressions of faith in these times is one of the most faithful acts of all,” he said.
- Pritzker said authorities should do more so that everybody can vote by mail in the November general election.
- He called on people in Illinois to fill out their 2020 Census forms while they are stuck at home. He said the state has the eighth highest response rate in the country so far.
Dan Mihalopoulos is a reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.