Pritzker warns of long-term effects of coronavirus as cases rise among youth in Illinois

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker said there’s a rising trend in coronavirus cases across Illinois Wednesday, and while the virus is now spreading the most among those in their 20s, he says there are reasons for everyone to be concerned.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 1,759 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 additional coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed over the past day. The largest increase in cases is among those 20-29 years old and outside the Chicago region, with the southern part of the state in particular seeing a surge.

During a press conference Wednesday, Pritzker said while there are fewer fatalities among young people who contract coronavirus, it is still “dangerous” due to long-term damage it can cause.

“It’s not a matter of, ‘how likely am I to die?’ Young people report fatigue, breathing problems and heart issues,” Pritzker said.

The statewide 7-day positivity rate from July 29-August 4 remains at 3.9 percent, near where it has been for the past week after rates began to climb in late June.

Two western Illinois regions established in the state’s “Restore Illinois” plan are at one of the state’s coronavirus “warning” levels as of August 2, with positivity rate increases in seven of the past 10 days, down from six on Tuesday. Hospitalization rates in those regions remain within the state’s limits, however.

While 10 of Illinois’ 11 regions were below a five percent infection positivity rate two weeks ago, Pritzker said only four are below that margin as of Wednesday.

Two downstate regions established in the state’s plan are still the closest the 8 percent positivity rate threshold where additional mitigation measures could be put in place, with 7.1 percent positivity in Metro East and 7.2 percent in the Southern region as of Sunday.

If a region sees three days at an 8% or higher rate, or officials report seven to 10 days of increasing positivity plus along with a 7-day increase in hospital admissions, it would be flagged for intervention.

Speaking to resident sin counties where cases are on the rise, Pritzker said if the trend continues it will “only be a matter of time” before the state steps in and implements restrictions like closing bars, ending indoor dining and more.

“Without local action, even more stringent restrictions on public interaction – or in the extreme another stay-at-home order – might be in your future,” Pritzker said.

Health officials warn residents to heed the state mask mandate, and avoid large gatherings of any kind. IDPH Director Dr. Ngoze Ezike called the virus an “invisible threat with visible consequences” Wednsday.

“You’re tired of hearing about it, I’m tired of talking about it; believe me, I want this over as much as everyone else. But this virus is not tired, it’s trying to gain momentum,” Ezike said.

More than 46,000 tests were performed in the last 24 hours according to the IDPH, the second-highest increase reported since the start of the pandemic. Officials have been ramping up testing as the virus is seeing a resurgence both in Illinois and across the country.

The average number of cases measured over the past 14 days continues to rise since reaching its lowest point around late June. However, the 14-day average for coronavirus-related deaths is around 16 as of Wednesday, near the lowest point its reached since infection rates began to fall.

Hospitalizations statewide remain within limits set by the state as well, with 1,552 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday night, including 368 in intensive care and 129 on ventilators.

To date, 186,471 cases of COVID-19 and 7,573 related deaths have been confirmed in Illinois.

The governor also spoke about a widespread unemployment insurance fraud scam, saying more than 100,000 cases in Illinois have been uncovered since March.

Pritzker said anyone who received a debit card from IDES in the mail but didn’t apply for one needs to contact the state immediately to report the possible identity theft.

Chicago Public Schools students will begin the fall with all-remote instruction, officials said Wednesday, backing away from tentative plans to have most kids return to the classroom two days a week.

Clorox disinfecting wipes won’t be fully restocked until next year due to skyrocketing demand, as the company’s CEO calls them “the hottest commodity in the business right now.” The wipes are made of the same material as face masks, medical gowns and other medical wipes, which is hard to come by.

WATCH ABOVE: Governor JB Pritzker and health officials give an update on COVID-19 in Illinois and the latest state measures Wednesday

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