COVID-19 cases are on the rise throughout the state and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is hoping a new $5 million state advertising campaign will help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus by encouraging use of face coverings.
Pritzker announced the campaign, which has the tagline “It only works if you wear it,” at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Operations Center in Springfield. The governor said the costs are reimbursable through federal coronavirus relief funds.
Pritzker said the campaign will permeate “really every kind of medium that you can think of,” including “a good deal on social media,” cable, broadcast TV, Hulu, YouTube and many other platforms.
The governor praised a recent action by Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder, who signed an order imposing fines for Springfield bars and restaurants flouting masking, social distancing and capacity restrictions. It also banned occupancy of standing areas at bars both inside and outside.
“But government action isn’t the only answer,” Pritzker said. “In fact, it’s not enough by itself. We also need all our residents to take this seriously, and to protect themselves.”
The added push for face coverings, which have been mandated in the state since May 1, comes as the state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 tests hit 4 percent Aug. 3. That drove the rolling positivity rate to the highest it’s been since June 11, when it was 4.2 percent.
The 1,298 new cases among 28,475 test results reported made for a one-day positivity rate of 4.6 percent. That followed 3,106 combined confirmed cases announced Saturday and Sunday among 78,754 test results reported.
18 new cases in Brookfield, 9 in Riverside
On the local level, an upward trend in new COVID-19 cases seen in Brookfield and Riverside a week ago largely continued for the week ending Tuesday morning, Aug. 4.
After seeing a spike of 24 new cases a week ago, Brookfield added another 18 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 as of the morning of Aug. 4. That was tied for the third-highest weekly total of new cases in Brookfield since the Cook County Department of Public Health began tracking COVID-19 data in March.
As of Tuesday morning, a total 243 Brookfield residents had tested positive for COVID-19, including four who have died of the disease. The last Brookfield resident reported to have died from the disease was on June 7.
The nine new cases of COVID-19 in Riverside were the most in a one week period since the seven-day period ending May 26, right around the time the state began loosening its stay-at-home restrictions and began allowing activities such as outdoor dining.
As of Tuesday morning, Riverside’s total number of COVID-19 cases stood at 121, with two deaths, the last of which was reported on May 4.
Three North Riverside residents tested positive for COVID-19 for the week ending on the morning of Aug 4, bringing that village’s total to 90. Three North Riverside residents have died from the disease, with the most recent fatality reported on July 19.
Guv: Wear a mask
When asked if the state or local governments should impose fines for those not wearing masks, Pritzker said, “The idea here is not to chase people down on the street and say, you know, ‘Hey you’re not wearing a mask and I’m going to throw a ticket at you.'”
He said the first priority is to ask those without masks to put one on.
“People who refuse to wear a mask, people who are entering public premises where they know they’re supposed to wear a mask, and who have been reminded, and who aren’t, those people certainly should be, you know, reminded again by police and ultimately if they’re absolutely refusing in public, they’re putting other people at risk, so it’s worthy of considering a fine at a local level,” he said.
The state has now reported 183,241 cases of COVID-19, including 7,526 deaths, since the pandemic began. At the end of Sunday, there were 1,418 people in Illinois reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 347 were in intensive care units and 132 patients were on ventilators.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, reiterated the need for wearing masks in public as well.
“It’s the same message we’ve been echoing since the beginning. We’re all safer and stronger when we go all in Illinois,” she said.
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.