ILLINOIS — Public health officials have identified two trends among new coronavirus cases over the past few months: they’re growing quickest among young Illinoisans and in downstate communities, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday.
The largest increases in new cases are being reported among residents ages 20-29, while the percentage of new cases reported outside Chicago has “dramatically increased,” Pritzker said, warning that the positivity rate remains under 5 percent in just four of the state’s 11 coronavirus management regions.
“This does not in any way suggest that those are the only two categories of people who are in danger,” Pritzker said. “This virus continues to ravage people of all ages and across the entire state.”
“Let’s be clear: this virus is dangerous, no matter how young you are, because of the long-term damage it can cause,” Pritkzer said, noting some young people who have recovered from the virus reported experiencing fatigue, breathing problems and heart issues.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and IDPH officials redrew Illinois' coronavirus emergency management map last month, adding seven new regions to better target mitigation strategies and any new restrictions in regions where cases are climbing.
Under the state's new mitigation plans, regions face new restrictions on businesses and activities if they meet certain statistical thresholds. New restrictions, like ending indoor dining and closing bars, would be implemented in a region if it records positivity rates of more than 8 percent for three consecutive days.
Pritzker warned state officials would also impose new restrictions if a region reports daily positivity-rate increases seven times with 10 days, along with an increase in hospital admissions due to coronavirus-related symptoms or a drop in capacity in intensive care units.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike also stressed the need for masks and social distancing to help combat the spread of the virus.
"You're tired of hearing about it, I'm tired of talking about it," she said, but stressed there is evidence those measures work. Ezike cited two Missouri hairdressers who both tested positive for coronavirus but managed to avoid spreading it to the hundreds of clients they saw — due to wearing masks. When not wearing face coverings at home, it's believed the hair stylists spread the illness to their family members.
"Among 139 clients exposed to two symptomatic hair stylists with confirmed COVID-19 while both the stylists and the clients wore face masks, no symptomatic secondary cases were reporte," due to a universal face covering policy, the CDC said.
Check back to Patch for updates to this developing story.