The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Illinois today set a new high. While more COVID-19 tests are being given, the relatively high percentage of people testing positive for the virus indicates that there are likely many people in the state who have COVID-19 and who have not yet been tested. Governor J.B. Pritzker continues to focus on increasing testing.

COVID-19 Infections Are Still Increasing

The number of Evanston residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 8 cases today, April 22, for a total of 261 cases, according to information provided by the City of Evanston. The trend is shown in the above chart. 

To date, a total of 8 Evanstonians have died due to COVID-19.    

For Chicago, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grew from 13,554 cases yesterday to 14,394 today; the cases in Cook County grew from 23,184 yesterday to 24,546 today; and the number of cases in Illinois grew from 33,059 yesterday to 35,108 today. The trend is shown in the first chart in the chart box.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Director of Illinois Department of Public Health, said that there were 2,049 new COVID-19 cases reported in Illinois in the last 24 hours. This is the highest number of new cases reported in a single day to date. The trend of new cases is shown in the second chart in the chart box.

The cases between April 8 and 12 increased on an average of 9.0% each day over the total on the previous day. The average percentage increase between April 13 and 17 is 5.7% each day over the total on the previous day. The average percentage increase between April 18 and 22 is 5.4%.

The five day average is decreasing – in part because the denominator (i.e., the number of cases) is increasing.

The number of residents of Illinois who have died due to COVID-19 has increased to 1,465.

Increasing the Testing for COVID-19

Gov. Pritzker said the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases was the highest-ever today because there was a high number of tests. In the same 24-hour period there were 9,349 tests, the highest in any day. In the prior four days, the number of tests given averaged about 6,750 tests per day. 

Gov. Pritzker has explained on many occasions during the last few weeks what the State was doing to increase its capacity to give COVID-19 tests and to increase its ability to obtain the supplies needed to administer the tests.

On April 22, Gov. Pritzker said, “More widespread testing is a key goal in combating COVID-19. It’s a vital factor in our long-term path to building a new normal. Along that path we need to make more testing available and convenient to more people.”

He said the State opened up a new drive-through testing facility today in Aurora and that another one will open on Friday in Rockford. With the three other drive-through sites the State has in Markham, Bloomington and Harwood Heights, the State will be able to test a total of 2,900 people per day in those five sites.

He added that anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms could be tested at these State drive-through facilities, even if they do not have a doctor’s order. He said IDPH is encouraging other testing providers in the State to provide testing using these criteria. Previously, a doctor’s order was required at many sites.

Dr. Ezike said, “We are encouraging people to get tested. More and more locations and facilities are starting to offer testing,” across the State.

“Testing will help us know just how widespread the virus is and what communities are being impacted most, where we need to target our responses. We already know some of the information through the testing we are able to do, but more is still needed.

“Additional testing also helps stop further spread,” Dr. Ezike added. “Many people have only mild symptoms or no symptoms, but they can still spread the virus. With additional testing, people will know if they’re COVID positive and they can take appropriate precautions, such as self-isolation, which will help reduce the spread to others, including the most vulnerable. More testing is one of the keys needed to end the pandemic.”

Some reports discussed in the RoundTable (see links below) say that in order to open up the economy in a safe manner and in a way that people feel safe to return to work, the nation must increase its testing from its current level of about 150,000 people per day to 500,000 people per day. Another recent report says the number must be 5 million per day by mid-June and increase to 25 million by the beginning of August.

But if the lower number is used, Illinois would have to ramp up its testing to about 19,000 tests per day.

How to Balance 

When asked how he balances the human cost of keeping the economy closed with the human cost of COVID-19, Gov. Pritzker said, “These are the things that I weigh and that I think about all the time – because I understand that it’s challenging for people. There’s a health cost in addition to the financial cost for everybody. As this is going on, it’s having an effect on everybody. Like everybody, I want it to be back to normal as fast as possible.

“I think we’re all recognizing normal is going to look a little bit different going forward until there’s a vaccine, until we can literally rid our State and our country and our planet of this scourge of COVID-19.”

He added, “I want to remind everybody we are still adding more people to our hospital beds in the State of Illinois. We’re adding more people to our ICU beds.”

On April 6, IDPH reported that 3,680 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19, and on April 22 the number was 4,665. The number of ICU beds used on April 6 was 810, and on April 22 the number is 1,220.

“You don’t want to be on this side of the curve,” said the Governor. “We have to get past that. I very much want to find the right balance.”

He has repeatedly said one metric to opening up the economy is that new COVID-19 cases should be decreasing for 14 days after reaching the peak. The models, he said, are now predicting that the peak will not be reached until mid-May.

And in addition, he said yesterday, “[F]or us to truly open things up we need testing and tracing, and we need a treatment available and we need widespread availability of PPEs [personal protection equipment]. We don’t have those available to us today.”

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...