Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

During Governor J.B. Pritzker’s afternoon briefing today, word spread that a Circuit Court Judge in Clay County found that the Governor lacked authority to enter the Stay-at-Home Order that goes into effect on May 1. Gov. Pritzker characterized the complaint brought by a Republican State Representative as an insult and dangerous.

Meanwhile, new confirmed cases are increasing and hospitalizations and increasing, but it appears that, for now, hospitals have ample capacity to serve those infected with the virus.

COVID-19 Infections Are Still Increasing

Evanston: The number of Evanston residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 30 cases between April 24 and today, April 27, for a total of 318 cases, according to information provided by the City of Evanston. The trend is shown in the above chart. 

To date, a total of 10 Evanstonians have died due to COVID-19, an increase of one person since Friday.    

Chicago, Cook County and Illinois: For Chicago, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grew from 16,112 on Friday to 18,682 today; the cases in Cook County grew from 27,616 on Friday to 31,953 today; and the number of cases in Illinois grew from 39,658 on Friday to 45,883 today. The trend is shown in the first chart in the chart box.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of Illinois Department of Public Health, said that there were 2,119 new cases reported in Illinois on Saturday (April 25), 2126 new cases on Sunday (April 26), and 1,980 today. The trend of new cases is shown in the second chart in the chart box.

Dr. Ezike said that while the number of new COVID-19 cases had increased in the last three days, the number of tests had also increased. She added that the rate of the rise was slowing. “We are thinking that we’re close to the peak,” she said.

The rate of increase of new cases today was 4.5%.

The number of deaths in Illinois related to COVID-19 increased to a total of 1,983.

The Positive Test Rate: In the last three days, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Illinois increased by an average of 2,075 per day. In the same period, there was an average of 12,665 tests per day. The average percentage of positive tests in relation to the number of tests given in the three-day period was 16.4 %.

The World Health Organization says the positive rate should be below 10% in order to safely open the economy. A rate higher than 10% means it is likely that there are many people in the community who have COVID-19 but have not yet been tested.

Hospitalizations in the State: Gov. Pritzker also reported that the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Illinois increased from 3,680 on April 6 to 4,672 today, and the number of COVID-19 patients occupying ICU beds increased from 1,161 on April 6 to 1,229 today; and that 763 people with a COVID-19 infection were on ventilators today.

Gov. Pritzker has been saying that one criterion he is looking at in terms of reopening the economy is that the State reach a peak and then show a decline for 14 consecutive days. When asked if the peak would be in new cases or hospitalizations, Gov. Pritzker said the number hospitalizations and the utilization of ICU beds and ventilators would be key. He added, “It seems that the use of ventilators has leveled,” in part due to doctors’ using treatments that do not require the use of ventilators.

“I’m hopeful that it’s a peak, not a plateau,” said the Governor.

The State’s hospitals have capacity to handle these numbers of patients. As of April 25, there were 11,173 hospital beds open, 966 ICU beds open, and 1,894 ventilators available.

Expanded Criteria for COVID-19

Dr. Ezike said the symptoms for COVID-19 have been expanded to include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, a headache, a sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Shortness of breath has also been changed to “shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.”

The full list of symptoms is now fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell.

Under guidance issued by IDPH, testing for COVID-19 is now available for people who have COVID-19 symptoms or have a risk factor, such as contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, a compromised immune system, or a serious chronic medical condition.

Testing is also available for those with or without symptoms who work in a health care facility; work in correctional facilities, such as jails or prisons; serve as first responders, such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians; serve as law enforcement officers and firefighters; and support critical infrastructure, such as workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, public utilities, factories, childcare and sanitation.

Judge Finds Second Stay-at-Home Order Unauthorized

State Representative Darren Bailey filed a complaint in Clay County Circuit Court last week challenging Governor Pritzker’s Stay-at-Home order that goes in effect on May 1. The complaint alleges that the Governor’s order violates Rep. Bailey’s constitutionally protected freedom by ordering him to stay at home and limiting his ability to travel in the State. The complaint also alleges that Gov. Pritzker lacked the authority to enter an emergency order lasting more than 30 days.

Reportedly, the Judge found that the Governor has power only to enter an emergency order for 30 days, and the Judge entered a temporary restraining order blocking the Stay-at Home order that is scheduled to become effective on May 1 – as it applies to the plaintiff.

Gov. Pritzker said he plans to appeal the order. “In collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office, my team will fight this legal battle to the furthest extent possible to insure the public health …” He added that the State will be issuing new public health directives so that it can continue to respond to this public health crisis.

 “Painful as our actions might be, the question boils down to life and death,” said the Governor. “COVID-19 is responsible for denying the people of Illinois the precious moments of togetherness and steadiness of routine that have been put on pause in response to this global pandemic. The Stay-at-Home order has prevented tens of thousands of illnesses and thousands of deaths.

 “History will remember those who put politics aside to come together to keep people safe. It will also remember those who so blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity that they made an enemy of science, and of reason.

“Rep. Darren Bailey’s decision to take to the courts to try and dismantle public health directives designed to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this COVID-19 crisis, and it’s a danger to millions of people who may get ill because of his recklessness.

“At best, no one is better off because of this ruling, and at worst, people’s health and safety will suffer tremendously,” Gov. Pritzker added.

In arguing that he had authority to issue a second order that extends the declaration of a disaster, Gov. Pritzker said, “We are operating on decades of precedent in terms of how disaster proclamations work; from floods to tornados and now a global pandemic, disasters don’t necessarily evaporate on a 30-day timeframe,” he said. “The legislature took that into account when they wrote this law.”

He encouraged all municipal-level leaders as well as the people of Illinois to follow the advice of scientists, of IDPH and of the CDC, and continue to follow the guidelines of the Stay-at-Home order.

“This ruling has put the People of Illinois at risk. I sincerely hope that this matter will be brought to a swift resolution so we can go back to placing our undivided attention on the work of keeping people safe.”

Gov. Pritzker said his office will seek an emergency stay of the judge’s ruling while it takes the case to the Illinois Appellate Court.