State health officials reported 57 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday as Illinois saw the lowest number of hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients since early April.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said the state’s COVID-19 total is now at 77,741 positive cases and 3,406 deaths.
Laboratories have processed 13,653 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 429,984.
The IDPH reported the fewest number of deaths on Sunday since May 4. Data shows 4,293 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Saturday, which is the lowest since April 13.
On April 12, the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators was 800. That number reached 709 on Saturday.
On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that he would not be holding his daily coronavirus press briefings during the weekend anymore.
Pritzker appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” program with Jake Tapper Sunday morning.
“I have not been counting on the White House because there have been too many situations in which they made promises not delivered,” Pritzker said, adding “We’re going it alone, as the White House has left all the states to do.”
He said that the White House recently promised to send 620,000 testing swabs and 465,000 viles of viral transport media. The shipment was scheduled to begin arriving in early May but was delayed. It is expected to arrive on Sunday, Pritzker said.
A study conducted by Harvard University shows Illinois needs to do at least 64,000 tests a day to begin reopening.
Pritzker promised that Illinois will continue to grow testing on their own. He said that Illinois is imitating Massachusetts’ contact tracing program, which is crucial to reopening the state.
“We think we can have a massive contact tracing effort up in the next few weeks,” Pritzker said.
The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board wrote an editorial on Wednesday criticizing Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.
“He’s being more than just cautious. He has moved the goal posts… Pritzker’s state goal was to ‘get the outbreak under control’ — not eradicate COVID-19 completely… We don’t want his pursuit of the perfect outcome to unnecessarily delay the restarting of activities,” the board said.
Pritzker responded to the board’s editorial by saying they “did not read the plan.”
“The truth is, coronavirus is still out there. It hasn’t gone anywhere. We all are going to have to change the way we do things until we’re able to eradicate it,” he said.
“If the Chicago Tribune thinks everything is going to go back to normal without us having a very effective treatment, or a vaccine — they’re just dead wrong,” Pritzker added.
Illinois now has 244 public testing sites across the state, which is more than double than the amount it had on April 24.
“The devastation this pandemic has wreaked upon our economy, the economy of the United States and that of the world is mind-boggling. The swiftness and immediacy of its economic impact has never been before. Businesses large and small have shuttered. Families have had their savings wiped out,” Pritzker said on Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) processed more than 1 million initial unemployment claims in the first nine weeks of the pandemic starting March 1. Over $2 billion has been paid out in claims in the first four months of 2020.
In comparison, Pritzker said that in 2008 the state processed 180,000 unemployment claims during the first nine weeks of the Great Recession.
“The pain and devastation of people who lost their jobs is heartbreaking. The financial toll on the people of Illinois has been breathtaking and it’s unprecedented,” Pritzker said.
Illinois is currently in phase two of Pritzker’s five-phase plan. The earliest any of the state’s four regions could move into phase three would be May 29.