Pritzker defends application of state restrictions

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SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday defended his decision to blanket Illinois with the same restrictions instead of regionalizing the reach of his executive orders.

The novel coronavirus affects residents in Chicago and the collar counties just as it does in Sangamon and St. Clair counties, he said. COVID-19 knows “no county or regional boundaries.”

Those who say communities’ economies should reopen based on the number of confirmed cases are not putting that statistic in context, the governor added.

Of the top five counties with the highest infection rate, two are in downstate Illinois — Jasper and Randolph counties. And “even more troubling,” Pritzker said, is residents in Jasper and Monroe counties are “more likely to die of COVID-19” than residents of Cook County.

“When these factors are taken into account, the overall picture around COVID-19 in Illinois is quite different than many have assumed. Yes, in terms of total case numbers and lives lost, Cook and the collars constitute the largest segment of COVID-19’s presence in Illinois,” the governor said. “That is indisputable. It would be doing a massive disservice to our downstate residents if we governed only by raw numbers.”

The Chicagoland area has a greater number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases, he added, because almost two of every three Illinoisans call it home.

The state has 45,883 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the Department of Public Health, up 1,980 from Sunday. Over the past day, 50 more residents died in 10 counties, bringing the number of COVID-19 fatalities to 1,983.

Laboratories reported processing 12,676 virus tests in the past 24 hours, the fourth day in a row Pritzker’s long-stated daily testing goal of 10,000 was exceeded.

The governor said he consults additional statistics when making COVID-19 decisions. The state’s hospitalization rate slowly climbed from April 6, when 3,680 patients were receiving care, to 4,672 as of midnight.

The rate of virus patients occupying intensive care unit beds slowly decreased over the same time period, from 43 percent on April 6 to 34 percent as of midnight Sunday.

“I’ve made each decision with a laser-like focus on the health and safety of every resident, and with a strong desire to get us back to work and school as soon as it’s safe,” Pritzker said. “Frankly, the decisions have most often been very difficult, often choosing between saving lives and saving livelihoods.”