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On a day Illinois reported 138 new deaths from the coronavirus — totaling 3,111 since Illinois’ first death in mid-March — Gov. JB Pritzker said it’s possible Illinois’ Covid-19 trajectory has plateaued, with metrics like hospital resource usage and number of new cases essentially flat.

[Hannah Meisel/The Daily Line] 

“I certainly am concerned that we’re going to be on a plateau for a long period of time,” Pritzker said during his daily Covid-19 press briefing Thursday. 

Early models for Covid-19 in Illinois predicted a tidy bell curve with a “peak” in mid-April. Pritzker said he still hoped for such a trajectory, but no one would know whether the state was on the downward side of the virus’ growth “until you see it in the rearview mirror,” warning that a plateau might end in a surge in cases and hospitalizations. 

But even a plateau is better than exceeding Illinois’ healthcare system capacity, the governor said.  

“If you can maintain a plateau, for a period of time, and there is still hospital bed availability that’s good enough,” Pritzker said, defending using certain metrics in his plan to reopen Illinois’ economy in phases and by region. 

While each of the state’s four regions identified in Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan are currently in the second phase, moving into later phases of the reopening plan is partially dependent on the mass expansion of testing in Illinois.  

In mid-April, Covid-19 testing became available to anyone experiencing symptoms indicative of the virus, but when testing finally passed 10,000 specimens collected per day two weeks ago, the rate of positive tests began to drop. Statewide, the positive test rate reached a recent new low of 14.85 percent, though the northeast region of Illinois has a higher positive test rate hovering around 20 percent. 

[Hannah Meisel/The Daily Line]

Illinois remains far behind in testing, according to testing metrics suggested by a new study from Harvard University that says the state should be performing 64,000 tests daily by May 15 — a number that far exceeds the 17,783 test results reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health between Wednesday and Thursday, which itself was a near-record for testing in Illinois.

Pritzker touted the state as second among the 10 most populous states in the U.S. for testing metrics. He suggested that a worldwide supply shortage and lax coordination with the Trump administration have been challenges.

“I don’t think 64,000 is adequate for the state of Illinois, he said. “We’re going to need many more tests than that.” 

[Hannah Meisel/The Daily Line]

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