CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker addressed the halting of high school sports this year at a press conference on Wednesday, doubling down on his decision to keep students off the playing field for safety’s sake, even as the Big Ten announced today that college football would resume.
“We all want our kids to be able to play sports,” said Pritzker. “Unfortunately, until the pandemic is over, our progress is limited. While many sports make adjustments to keep kids safe, some sports (high school football) are more difficult and offer more likelihood of transmission.”
High School football players, coaches and parents have been holding rallies trying to convince politicians to allow the high school football season to go on this fall.
In response, Pritzker said, “I’m not a scientist, but I do know how to listen to the experts. Under no circumstances will I put children and families at risk.”
Dr. Michael Lin, with the Division of Infectious Diseases at Chicago’s Rush Medical College, said, “Just one youth athlete showing up with the virus could create a chain reaction in spread that could quickly threaten an entire team. This is not just theoretical. We’ve seen COVID-19 outbreaks in college and professional teams that have much more prevention resources at their disposal.”
Additionally, Pritzker announced that Illinois’ Region 7, consisting of Will and Kankakee counties, have successfully brought their rolling 7 day COVID-19 testing positivity rate below 7%, to 6.4%.
The Governor said that if the county can keep the positivity rate from rising for the next 3 days, he would lift the additional mitigation restrictions, which included closing bars and indoor dining, and limiting gatherings to less than 25 people.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today 1,941 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 35 additional confirmed deaths.
• Bureau County: 1 male 80s
• Clinton County: 1 male 90s
• Coles County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
• Cook County: 1 male 30s, 1 male 50s, 2 females 60s, 1 female 70s, 2 male 70s, 1 female 80s
• DuPage County: 1 female 60s
• Hancock County: 1 male 80s
• Henry County: 1 female 60s
• Jasper County: 1 male 60s
• Kane County: 1 female 70s
• Lake County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s
• Lawrence County: 1 female 80s
• Livingston County: 1 male 80s
• Macon County: 1 male 80s
• Madison County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
• Massac County: 1 female 90s
• Peoria County: 1 male 90s
• Perry County: 1 female 70s
• Rock Island County: 1 male 70s
• St. Clair County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s
• Wayne County: 1 female 50s
• Will County: 1 male 70s
• Williamson County: 1 female 90s
Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 266,151 cases, including 8,367 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 9 – September 15 is 3.7%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 52,311 specimens for a total of 4,863,138. As of last night, 1,565 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 345 patients were in the ICU and 143 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
Gov. Pritzker also warned of severe cuts to the state budget, in the wake of the pandemic, without federal assistance.
Likening the situation to the “Red Wedding” sequence of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Pritzker warned of a budget cut of 5% this year and possibly up to 10% next year, which could result in the loss of up to 1,000 state jobs and detrimental impact to state services.
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