At a briefing today, Governor. JB Pritzker announced a collaboration with the Governors of six other states, formed to enable the governors to share the best ideas on how to move forward. He also summarized how the State is increasing its capacity to test many more people for COVID-19 each day. He said he will decide within the week what will happen after April 30.

COVID-19 Numbers Are Still Increasing

The number of Evanston residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 2 cases today, April 16, to a total of 199 cases, according to information provided by the City of Evanston. The trend is shown in the above chart. 

To date, a total of 6 Evanstonians have died due to COVID-19.    

For Chicago, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grew from 10,192 yesterday to 10,642 today; the cases in Cook County grew from 17,306 yesterday to 18,117 today; and the cases in Illinois grew from  24,593 to 25,733.  A total of 122,589 people in Illinois have been tested for COVID-19. The trend is shown in the first chart in the chart box.

While the rate of these increases is slowing, the numbers are still going up; and the numbers represent only confirmed cases.  Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said yesterday that the total number of people who are infected by COVID-19 is “grossly understated.” She said they know that because there are limited supplies of testing materials, and many people are not being tested.

At the briefing today, Dr. Ezike said the number of deaths in the last 24 hours due to COVID-19 was 125, the highest number to date. A total of 948 residents of Illinois have died due to COVID-19.

“While these numbers are disheartening,” said Dr. Ezike, “I don’t want people to despair. Instead, I want them to renew our collective resolve to do what is needed to end the pandemic. We’re following the research and the studies that come out daily to update our knowledge base to inform our decisions.”

The second chart in the chart box shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Illinois each day starting on April 1. The chart reflects a buildup in the total number of cases between April 1 and April 4, then a drop on April 5, followed by a steady buildup through April 8, and fluctuations after that. 

The cases between April 2 and 6 increased on an average of 11.8% each day over the total on the previous day. The average percentage increase between April 7 and 11 is 9.3% each day over the total on the previous day. The average percentage increase between April 12 and 16 is 6%.

The five day average is decreasing.

PPEs and Testing

Gov. Pritzker provided statistics on the number of personal protective equipment (PPEs) the State is using in a 10-day period: 1.5 million N95 facemasks, 25 million gloves, 4.4 million gowns, and 700,000 surgical masks.

He said it was difficult to obtain these supplies. “As you know, COVID-19 and the lack of federal organization of the supply chain have truly warped the market. As a result, we rarely have the luxury of going directly to a manufacturer or a distributor to place an order. Procurements are often made more through multiple layers of connections, and the State is competing to obtain the supplies.”

Gov. Pritzker said the State is increasing its testing capacity, which he said is an essential element to safely open the economy. One supplier of four testing machines has been helpful, he said, and the machines are now running and able to provide reliable test results on 1,000s of specimens each day.

He said the State is also partnering with the universities in the State to obtain supplies necessary to collect the specimens, and that the State is expanding the locations to collect specimens, noting that it has increased access in African American communities and other communities that face significant structural challenges. The State is working with federally qualified health care centers throughout the state to collect specimens. In addition, it is expanding the number of drive-through facilities that can collect specimens. The recently established drive-through facility in Markham collected 600 specimens in its first day of operation, and it is expected to increase to 1,800 per day. The State has two other drive-through facilities and is planning to add two more.

The Partnership with Other States

The Governor briefly discussed the partnership with Governors in Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota.  “We share a lot of common values, and it’s a bipartisan group.”

He said the states’ economies share a lot in common. “The industries are similar, the thinking is similar, and we’ve got a pretty good relationship and that makes it a very worthwhile collaboration to have because collectively, I think, we’re making pretty good decisions.”

He said they are able to share the best ideas about how to move forward and think about how to open up the economies. He said the criteria he is using are testing, tracing, and treating, and having a widespread availability of PPEs. “Those are all things that we share in common,” he said.

“Importantly we are seeing things differently than are coming out of the CDC and the White House.”

In terms of testing, he said “We’re not where we want to be in the State.”

In terms of tracing, he said, “We need to do much more tracking and tracing.”

He added that before opening up the economy they need to determine how to protect workers and customers. “Once you ultimately try to loosen things up and make sure some people can do commerce and that we have an economy that starts to work again in the way we all want it to, you want to make sure that you’re keeping people safe.’

Gov. Pritzker said he is talking to healthcare partners and scientists every day and trying “to determine what or how we ought to make sure that we’re keeping people safe in the month of May, because we’re talking about the end of the order on April 30. We’re continuing to do that, and we’ll be making announcements over the next several days – I’m sure in the next week.”

He made no comment on whether schools would remain closed or whether the stay-at-home order would remain in place.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...