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Coronavirus

Pritzker: Wearing a mask 'does not replace staying home'

Illinois has 42 new COVID-19 deaths, 986 new cases

Gov. JB Pritzker addresses the media about the coronavirus during a briefing Monday at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield.
Gov. JB Pritzker addresses the media about the coronavirus during a briefing Monday at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield.

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Should people wear a mask to cover their nose and mouth when they step outside?

“I would not discourage people from wearing masks,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday at his daily news conference. “In fact, I think that there’s some evidence to show that it can be effective. Are we thinking about changing policy? We’re evaluating these things every day.”

Neither the state nor the federal government is making any such recommendation at this point, but it appears to be on the table.

Illinois saw an additional 42 deaths because of COVID-19 and announced an additional 986 new cases of the virus Wednesday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Masks of all kinds are in high demand for health care officials and first responders. The CDC maintains that healthy individuals do not need to wear a mask, and that masks “should be saved for caregivers.” Pritzker and the state government have spent a significant amount of time and effort working to acquire additional masks for health care providers.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said that wearing a mask limits droplets from spraying onto others.

“We are working closely alongside the CDC,” Ezike said. “We know that they’re looking at guidance now. We will be coming forth with our guidance as well.”

Pritzker and Ezike reiterated that the best way to avoid become ill is to stay home. On Tuesday, the governor extended Illinois’ stay-at-home order through April 30.

“[Wearing a mask is] more effective than not wearing a mask, but it does not replace staying at home,” Pritzker said.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told NPR this week that as many as 25% of people with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms at all. Those individual could be unwittingly spreading the disease to others, including more vulnerable populations.

Redford told NPR discussions about masks are being “aggressively reviewed” by the CDC.

Illinois continues to look to the CDC for guidance. Pritzker said the state is considering guidance for all manner of things – masks, gloves, how often people should wipe surfaces at home.

“We want everybody to do the most that they can to prevent potentially infecting others before they know [they are sick],” Ezike said. “We know that covering your cough, staying away from people, and potentially some kind of covering of your mouth and nose would be helpful.”

Of the 42 deaths announced Wednesday, 34 occurred in Cook County.

Newly reported deaths include a DuPage County woman in her 60s, a DuPage County woman in her 70s, a Kane County woman in her 90s, a Lake County man in his 50s and a Will County man in his 60s, among others.

According to the IDPH, the state has tested 40,384 people. Chicago has 3,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while the rest of Cook County has 2,065 cases.

Lake County has 477 cases, DuPage 392, Will 323, Kane 142, McHenry 69, Kendall 37, DeKalb 16, La Salle six, Whiteside five, Grundy four, Carroll three and Bureau two.

The state has now tested 127 individuals in Stateville Correctional Center outside Joliet. Of the 80 tests that have returned so far, 36 have tested positive. One inmate has already died and 19 more individuals are hospitalized.

In Washington, President Donald Trump will not reopen enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, news which was first reported Tuesday by Politico. Pritzker said people need access to health care now more than ever.

“For Illinoisans recently laid off because of COVID-19, I want them to know that they are eligible to enroll in the ACA because of a clause in the act allowing those experiencing a ‘qualifying life event’ to enroll at this time,” Pritzker said.

He encouraged those individuals to visit getcovered.illinois.gov.

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