CHICAGO (CBS) -- The total number of coronavirus cases in Illinois topped 20,000 this Easter Sunday, but Gov. JB Pritzker said the evidence shows the state is stabilizing or bending the curve when it comes to infections.
Pritzker said there were 1,672 new cases on Sunday, for a total of 20,852 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide.
Another 43 people have died of the virus, for a total of 720 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.
Pritzker said there are now known COVID-19 cases in 86 of Illinois' 102 counties.
But despite the high number of new cases on Sunday, Pritzker emphasized that the numbers actually show a positive sign.
"First, the number of tests completed for today has reached its highest number ever at 7,956 for the last 24 hours," Pritzker said. "That's almost halfway between the 6,000 that we've been averaging lately and the 10,000 I have set for the next goal."
That shows evidence that the infection rate is stabilizing or the curve is being bent, he said. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike – who had the day off for Easter Sunday – had previously said the cases are no longer growing exponentially.
Pritzker said the number of COVID-19 tests that have come back positive is almost exactly the same as it has been for the last two weeks, and the death toll on Sunday is lower than it has been in six days.
The governor said he prays the trends continue, and if they do, people adhering to the stay-at-home order will be to credit. He noted that Illinois was the second state to issue such an order, and experts say it "now seems to be reaching a peaking term."
But he said experts agree it is necessary to stay the course "to make sure that we're keeping the progress going that we've already made."
Pritzker also emphasized the importance of celebrations of faith on Easter Sunday being modified so people stay at home and find virtual ways to interact.
"I believe passionately that adapting our expression of faith in these times is one of the most faithful acts of all – to hold our beliefs steadfast even as we defend ourselves against unprecedented challenges," Pritzker said.
Pritzker also thanked Tim Cook and Apple as the company delivered 100,000 N95 masks this weekend to support health care workers and first responders.
He also advised everyone at home that Sunday is a great day to go online and take 10 minutes to fill out their Census forms at 2020Census.gov.
Pritzker also addressed what it might look like when business opens back up in Illinois. He said discussions have been in progress about that very subject.
"It's a question of how and when," Pritzker said. "Now, the 'when' would be frankly determined by when the curve starts to turn down, that we see significant progress."
Still, Pritzker said there will have been a low percentage of people exposed, so there will not be herd immunity.
Once it is safe, the question becomes how to operate society while bringing down the level of infection as people go back to work. He said his office is talking to industry leaders, economists, and most importantly scientists.
But Pritzker emphasized, "The last thing we want is to begin to open things up, and then have a big spike of infections, and then unfortunately all the spikes that come with that – including a spike in deaths."
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