Pritzker says continued drop in COVID could end his mask tenure

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Gov. JB Pritzker has hinted that Illinois could see indoor mask warrants lifted if coronavirus transmissions in the state continue to decline. He would not give a specific objective.

Governor JB Pritzker said Illinois will have to show a constant decline in the state’s COVID-19 transmissions before considering lifting the statewide indoor mask mandate it re-launched in August.

When asked what measures were needed for Pritzker to overturn his executive order, the governor pointed to the high hospitalization rates and the number of new cases compared to the measures when Illinois “fully reopened” in June.

“We’re watching to make sure we’re on a good downward trajectory,” Pritzker said Oct. 4 at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago’s Loop. “This is what we were looking for in May before June; this is what we are looking for now so that we can eventually make changes.

Pritzker would not be precise.

Illinois has seen a gradual decline in new daily cases of COVID-19 since the resurgence in late August driven by the Delta variant.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that the state’s 7-day moving average has fallen to 2,416 new cases per day until Oct. 12, compared with 3,657 cases per day when Pritzker reinstated mask requirements in indoor public places, regardless of residents’ immunization status.

Despite the steady decline in measures, weekly average cases persist well above the daily average of 381 reported during the week ending June 11, when Illinois lifted most pandemic mitigation measures under Phase 5 of the Illinois Restoration Plan.

Pritzker said hospitalization rates in Illinois also remain “relatively high,” with an average of 1646 COVID-19 patients fill hospital beds statewide daily through October 11.

That number has fallen by more than a quarter over the past month, from an average of 2,301 cases per day in the first week of September. Yet healthcare providers are reporting limited access to intensive care beds in southern areas of the state due to an influx of new cases.

Throughout the state of Illinois, transmission of COVID-19 continues to decline, with a 2% test the positivity rate on October 12.

The governor’s evasive remarks on a threshold to lift Illinois’ mask mandate reflect public comments Pritzker has used to justify extending his continued emergency powers since the start of the pandemic.

Pritzker in turn used these emergency powers to sign and reissue his executive warrants, having the force of state law, for the past. 21 months.

When in a hurry in a July 26 maintenance on the specific statistics the state would have to meet in order to stop renewing the Illinois state of disaster – extending its expanded powers – Pritzker responded in general.

“There is always something we need to watch out for about this pandemic because, as you have seen, even though we have vaccines available, there are a good number of people in our population who are not yet vaccinated. “Pritzker told Illinois Capitol News.

“What’s important is keeping the people of Illinois healthy and safe, and making sure people get vaccinated.”

At the end of this last proclamation, Pritzker will have granted himself emergency powers over the Illinois for 589 consecutive days.

Illinois once made the mistake of putting unprecedented power in the hands of politicians, resulting in the state’s second worst culture of corruption. But rather than hand power back to the elected officials the Illinois chose to represent them, the majority of lawmakers have remained silent as Pritzker extended his emergency powers.

Given Pritzker’s hazy moves to relinquish his emergency powers, state lawmakers would be wise to set those limits now. After 21 months, it will be difficult to argue that the emergency has prevented elected officials from influencing Pritzker’s state-wide decisions.


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