‘He’s wrong’; Pritzker refutes Sosnowski claim that COVID-19 data doesn’t warrant bar, restaurant closures

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — At his Thursday briefing, Gov. JB Pritzker pushed back against Rep. Joe Sosnowski’s (R-69th Dist) calls for the IDPH to ease restrictions on Illinois’ bars and restaurants.

In a statement released Thursday, Sosnowski said COVID-19 data shows 70% of outbreaks have occurred in long-term care facilities.

“Restaurants, retailers and houses of worship are not the culprits of community spread of COVID-19 and we need to stop treating them as such,” Sosnowski said.

“IDPH’s own data demonstrates that most outbreaks of COVID-19 in Illinois are attributable to long-term care and other congregate living facilities. With this undisputed fact in mind, destroying people’s livelihoods and forcing people out of work with extreme statewide restrictions is clearly not based on data and science,” he added.

Pritzker responded by saying, “I know Sosnowski does not believe bars and restaurants have anything to do with transmitting or amplifying the disease, but he’s wrong. Medical doctors, epidemiologists, experts on infectious disease all have, nearly universally, said that bars and restaurants are places [where the virus is transmitted] because people aren’t wearing masks for lengthy periods of time.”

The Governor put the entire state under Tier 3 mitigations on November 20th to slow the spread of the virus. Today, he said the Illinois Department of Public Health continues to watch the hospitalization numbers in each region to judge when restrictions might be relaxed.

Pritzker said COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline statewide, although he said the state is not out of the post-Thanksgiving surge.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is reportedly 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 and Thursday a committee of outside experts is scheduled to vote on whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should authorize its use.

Pritzker also said the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program, which offers relief to small businesses, will be closing applications on Tuesday, December 15th at 5 p.m.

Since the program was launched in June, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has received over 40,000 applications through the duration of the program, helping small business owners spanning over 500 cities throughout the state of Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 11,101 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 196 additional deaths. 

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 823,531 cases, including 13,861 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 114,503 specimens for a total 11,481,848. As of last night, 5,138 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,081 patients were in the ICU and 606 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from December 3 – December 9, 2020 is 9.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from December 3 – December 9, 2020 is 11.4%.

The IDPH is tracking another outbreak at a veterans home, this time in Quincy, although Pritzker said 32 of 293 residents and 22 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

Pritzker also addressed an outbreak at a LaSalle veteran’s home, where 39 of 96 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 21 staff members. To date, he said, 33 residents have died.

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