(The Center Square) – As he’s done before other major holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned people to be careful about Labor Day gatherings.
Even if the gathering is with family or friends at home, Pritzker and health officials said people need to take precautions such as washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks.
Pritzker brought out several medical professionals to back him in his continued mitigation efforts. UI Health Infections Disease Dr. Susan Bleasdale said there aren’t many options to slow the spread.
“We may see somewhat of a seesaw back and forth of opening activities, and closing activities, but this is really important until we get an effective vaccine or treatment,” Bleasdale said.
Businesses have been opened and closed again in the Metro East area after the region’s COVID-19 positivity rate exceeded 8 percent for more than three days two weeks ago. Region 4 a positivity rate – which is the number of positive cases of all tests performed – of 9.6 percent.
State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, represents parts of that region and said using the positivity rates was not the best method.
“Closing businesses back down, making things much more difficult for people based on an unreliable metric that tells us the least about the factor that we should be monitoring whether or not our medical capacity can handle this,” Schimpf said.
As of Wednesday, of nearly 35,000 hospital beds statewide, there were nearly 1,600 beds taken by a patient with COVID-19 symptoms. There were 13,000 available beds statewide.
Pritzker criticized people he called “virus deniers” on Wednesday as he urged people to not take part in large gatherings during the Labor Day holiday weekend. He said he doesn’t want people to die.
“People are dying every day from this horrible virus and thousands who have recovered are still suffering from life-threatening pulmonary and cardiac symptoms,” Pritzker said.
But, that kind of thinking is dismissing people impacted by other outcomes from the government’s reaction closing sectors of the economy, according to addictions expert and author Mark Scheeren. He said opioid overdose deaths correlate with the shutdowns and have increased more than 40 percent, or up to 30,000 more.
“If people were looking at this currently, they would probably change the policy, because it seems that the lockdown cure is causing unintended consequences that are worse than the virus,” Scheeren said.
There are other negative societal outcomes from the shutdowns Scheeren mentioned including increased suicides and unaccounted for domestic and child abuse.
State public health officials on Wednesday reported an additional 27 COVID-related deaths in the latest 24-hour report. The numbers did not break down which were deaths from multiple conditions or just from COVID-19.
“All data are provisional and will change,” IDPH said. “In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time … and the numbers of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered.”
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