Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks at his daily press conference on May 4, 2020 | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker reported just 46 COVID-19 deaths in the past day as he also announced the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital is dropping.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 2,341 new coronavirus cases and 46 additional deaths as of Monday. The state’s COVID-19 total is now 63,840 positive cases and 2,662 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 13,844 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 333,147.

Pritzker said that the positivity rate, which is the percent of people tested that come back positive for the virus, is an important metric to look at.

He said that even though the number of cases continues to grow, the positivity rate has decreased from 21-22% to “something in the high teens.” It was 17% today.

The total number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on April 5 was 3,680, on April 12 it was 4,091, on April 19 it was 4,599 and on April 26 it was 4,672.

It had peaked on April 28 at 5,036 and has been on a decline since. As of late Sunday evening it was at 4,493, Pritzker said.

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The number of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has also decreased in the past several days.

“I’m hopeful that was the beginning or a continuation of a trend I’ve been praying for. I want everybody to understand we’re not through with this, this virus is still out there,” Pritzker said.

CBS host Margaret Breenan interviewed Pritzker on CBS’ Face The Nation program on Sunday regarding the coronavirus in Illinois.

Pritzker said that the state has bent the curve significantly. He warned that Illinois is not through the pandemic yet but the numbers are beginning to flatten.

“My great concern at this point is that we make sure we got our contact tracing up and running. We have increased testing significantly, so we are getting ready for a point where we can reopen the economy,” Pritzker said.

Illinois is ranked #2 when it comes to testing in the United States, he said, noting that the state has recently overcome testing challenges.

“We’ve got to get our contact tracing up and going and then as I say, we can reopen the economy as we see our hospitalizations begin to wane,” he said.

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Pritzker warned that his office has seen COVID-19 related scams through telephone, text message, internet and door-to-door solicitation.

“The attorney general will not hesitate to use the authority of his office and partnerships with state, local and federal law enforcement to hold accountable anyone seeking to profit off this pandemic,” Pritzker said.

On Saturday, IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike encouraged people to still be physically active while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

“We know that social distancing works and it has limited the spread of this virus. The weather is nice. People are getting antsy. You have cabin fever. And boredom affects both the children and the adults. We all can suffer anxiety and depression and kids may be starting to act out,” she said.

Pritzker also reminded residents to wear face coverings in public. “Face coverings are vital for people to wear. In fact, it may be the most important thing that you can do to save other people’s lives, to keep other people from getting infected and to protect people in your own home. If everybody does it, then you are protecting other people.”

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He said on Friday that if a certain region of the state sees 14 straight days of a decrease in cases, hospitalization and ICU rates, then they could reopen before the end of the stay-at-home order on May 30.

Contact tracing, which is the process of tracking an infected patient’s close contacts when they were infectious, is crucial to reopening the state. The close contacts are then notified and can self-isolate from others.

“Illinois will be building on our existing infrastructure and expertise to shape a massive statewide contact tracing operation, gradually building over the coming weeks and then scaling up an army of contact tracers by the hundreds and then the thousands,” Pritzker said.

The state is looking to eventually have 30 contact tracing workers per 100,000 residents. Pritzker will announce more details on how people can get involved in the coming weeks.