(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday continued to tour COVID-19 hot spots in Illinois to urge local residents and community leaders to take additional measures to reduce the spread of the virus before the state has to impose restrictions.
“We’re at a danger point,” the governor said at a news conference in Peoria.
He warned that Illinois could be headed for a “reversal” in its reopening as the state continues to see a resurgence in coronavirus case numbers.
Pritzker said if the COVID-19 metrics continue to increase, the Peoria region would have to be move backward and adopt mitigation strategies such as closing bars and further limiting capacity at restaurants.
“That is not something any of us want to do,” the governor said.
Pritzker and other public health officials emphasized the need for wearing face coverings, social distancing and hand washing.
“This pandemic is still among us,” he said, noting that COVID-19 cases have been on the rise statewide and there is still no treatment or vaccine for it.
The rising metrics come as some school districts in the state prepare to bring students back to the classroom for in-person instruction.
Pritzker said the state has provided guidance for schools, but said decisions about in-person instruction should be made at the local level.
“We really need local administrators as well as parents and school boards to be thinking about the circumstances of each school within their district,” he said.
“Wear the masks, make sure kids are wearing the masks, make sure that you are doing everything you can to follow the guidelines that we’ve put forward to keep everyone in our schools safe.”
Pritzker gave a similar speech Thursday afternoon in Ottawa, another hot spot region at the state’s warning level.
“Every region has increasing positivity rates and increasing cases. This is hugely problematic,” the governor said.
“It’s not something that we wanted to see happen, but it means that we’re going to have to take a hard look at what do we need to do – what mitigations do we need now – in order to get us back in line with the direction we were going, which was reducing those positivity rates,” he added.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,772 new cases and 18 additional deaths on Thursday across the state.