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Gov. Pritzker Warns Of Further Statewide Restrictions As New COVID Cases Surge To Another Record; 'It's Time To Take Some Responsibility'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker warned that he might be forced to impose new statewide COVID-19 restrictions if Illinois can't get the second surge of the virus under control, as the state reached a grim milestone with more than 10,000 total deaths, and set another daily case record, with nearly 10,000 new infections.

"If the current trajectory continues, if our hospitals continue to fill up, if more and more people continue to lose their lives to this disease, we're going to implement further statewide mitigations, which nobody – and I mean nobody – wants," Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

For the fourth time in the past eight days, Illinois is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases, with 9,935 new infections in the past day. The state also reported 97 new deaths on Thursday, the most in one day since early June, pushing the state past 10,000 deaths overall since the start of the pandemic.

"Today we mark a terrible milestone for the state of Illinois," Pritzker said. "Each day we are losing more and more of our neighbors to this virus. That's not a trend that's going to turn around on its own. It's up to us, all of us, to do something to save the next family from tragedy, because unfortunately it could easily be yours."

The previous record for daily cases was on Saturday, when the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,899 new cases. Illinois has reported at least 6,000 new cases nine days in a row, and is averaging 7,433 new cases per day over the past week, up from an average of 5,043 over the previous seven days, a 47% increase.

The new cases announced Thursday account for 11.6% of the 86,015 new tests reported on Thursday. The statewide seven-day average case positivity rate now stands at 9.1%, the first time it has surpassed 9% since late May. The governor said the average positivity rate in Illinois has nearly tripled since early October.

"The virus is spreading rapidly. We are fully into the second wave or second surge, and the cases are increasing exponentially," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday.

Since the start of the pandemic, IDPH has reported a total of 447,491 coronavirus cases, including 10,030 deaths.

As of Wednesday night, 3,891 virus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 772 in intensive care, and 343 on ventilators. Pritzker said the number of COVID patients in the hospital in Illinois has more than doubled since the start of October, as have the numbers of people in the ICU and on ventilators.

"Just think about that. We have more than doubled the number of people in our hospital system with this disease in just about five weeks, with no sign of slowing. We are just three weeks from Thanksgiving," Pritzker said.

All 11 regions of Illinois are now under tighter COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining and bar service. Pritzker said the Illinois Department of Public Health is weighing not only even further regional mitigations, but new statewide restrictions, because of an "unsustainable" rise in infections and hospitalizations.

"To all Illinoisans, I cannot stress enough the severity of our situation," Pritzker said.

The governor said the only way for the state to get the virus under control is for people to do the things public health officials have repeatedly urged the public to do: wear masks in public, stay at least six feet away from others whenever possible, and limit gathering in groups.

"It's time to take some responsibility. That's the only way that we will get out of this without having to implement more and more restrictions across more industries, and across the entire state," he said.

Earlier this week, Pritzker said he was not considering another statewide stay-at-home order, but acknowledged "that's something that lurks in the background."

While the governor did not specifically mention a possible stay-at-home order on Thursday, he said, "I think we all remember what Phase 3 looked like, or Phase 2 looked like. Those are all under consideration."

"You can go look at all of the mitigations we had in previous phase of Restore Illinois, or in the mitigations that are in the [regional] resurgence mitigation list," he said. "All of those are frankly potential mitigations that we would put in place statewide."

In addition to the stay-at-home order, earlier statewide restrictions in the spring included limiting bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery only, requiring all non-essential businesses to have employees work from home, postponing all elective medical procedures, and limiting all public gatherings – including religious services – to as few as 10 people.

Pritzker said local and county government officials also need to step up and enforce the regional mitigations he's imposed on every part of the state. Many local leaders who disagree with Pritzker's virus restrictions have refused to enforce them, allowing restaurants and bars to flout the governor's mitigation efforts.

"Frankly, I can tell you that these numbers are drastically increasing, and I can tell you that till I'm blue in the face, but if local leaders don't step up, if high-risk industries don't act accordingly, if families don't put off that gathering or dinner party, if people don't wear a mask, we're heading down a very dark dark path toward where we were last spring. Let's not let that happen," Pritzker said.

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