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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – New enforcement tools and ramped up contact tracing

Published: Monday, May 18, 2020 04:20 PM

Gov. Pritzker reserved comments today to address his new executive order imposing additional enforcement measures for businesses that defy the Stay at Home Order. He said the order establishes a milder form of enforcement - a citation - than was previously available to law enforcement agencies. The misdemeanor itself has always been in place, he said, prohibiting businesses from violating the direction of the Illinois Department of Public Health. In this case, that means opening during an infectious pandemic against health recommendations.

"It's my strong preference that education and communication should be our first tools," when it comes to enforcement, Pritzker said. "For the vast majority of businesses, that's been effective. When a business violates an IDPH rule and puts public health at risk, they violate a Class A misdemeanor. That's been the law. This additional enforcement citation causes less harm to a business than a total shutdown or loss of license. Many other states have enforcement tools like this, but not Illinois, until now."

The governor clarified that this can only affect a business, not an individual (such as a person refusing to don a face-covering), and that as with any misdemeanor, local law enforcement and state's attorneys can use their discretion in its enforcement.

Gov. Pritzker also spoke about the state's plans to ramp up contact tracing. He said the state's approach will rely on the 97 local health departments to work in concert with IDPH to use a standardized information management system to track cases and follow up with those who have tested positive for COVID-19. That will include an app for those who have tested positive, which will pass them information and simplify the process of following up. A pilot program focused in St. Clair and Lake Counties is currently in effect, the governor said.

Pritzker said underfunding of public health departments and the rapid nature of the virus' spread have hampered the state's initial efforts. Currently, the state is performing contact tracing with 29% of positive cases. He said getting the state to the recommended 60% of contact tracing tracking cannot be done with the state's existing infrastructure, which is why it is taking steps to hire new tracers and build out its digital platforms.

An initial digital message (such as a text) will be followed up by up to three phone calls and only as a last resort would contact tracers attempt an in-person follow-up, said Dr. Wayne Duffus, the state's epidemiologist.

"(Contact tracing is) arguably our most sustainable tool," Pritzker said. "Knowing if you've been exposed gives everyday Illinoisans the means to keep their family and friends safe."

People interested in becoming a contact tracer can find the application at dph.illinois.gov/COVID-19.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported 2,294 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total cases to 96,485. Over the past day, Illinois saw 59 additional deaths, bringing the state's total death toll to 4,234.

GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – IDPH recommends pregnant women get COVID-19 tests

Published: Friday, May 15, 2020 07:39 PM

The state’s public health director is urging hospitals test all pregnant women for COVID-19 in an effort to better protect the expectant mother and child.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike said labor can mimic or cover up COVID-19 symptoms and data from hospitals with universal maternity testing shows positive rates of 3 to 12% for the disease. Ezike said it’s vital to know if an expectant mother is positive in order to protect the delivery team and have a plan for the mom after the delivery and the newborn baby.

Her push for testing pregnant women came during the daily COVID-19 briefing Friday in which she announced 2,432 infections had been discovered among the nearly 26,000 test results returned in the past 24 hours. That translates into a 9% positive rate.

There were also 130 deaths due to the disease in the past day. So far, 4,058 people have died since the state began tracking the outbreak nearly three months ago.

Heading into Friday, there were 4,367 people hospitalized with infections in Illinois. Of them, 26% were in Intensive Care Units and 675 were on ventilators.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the good news is that the positivity rate is coming down and currently all regions are showing numbers that, if they continue, would result in everyone moving to Phase 3 of the reopening.

The governor continued to emphasize expanded testing and test result capacity.

Four additional drive-thru sites will open in the coming days in Chicago’s Chatham community, Champaign, Peoria and Rolling Meadows.

The governor was asked if he thought Iowa’s reopening put Illinoisans in danger.

“I would warn the people of the Quad-Cities region to be extraordinarily careful,” Pritzker said.

Asked again about the whereabouts of his family, the governor accused Republican partisans of endangering his family with reckless inquiries that are fueling hate speech.

“I would hope the GOP, Republican super PAC that’s pushing stories like this will stop doing it,” Pritzker said. “They are putting my family in danger.” 

COVID-19 Links

Illinois.gov

Illinois Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Unemployment Benefits

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