We've become accustomed to Illinois leading the nation for underfunded pensions and other negative trends, but last week, the state was on top for a positive reason – a decrease in coronavirus cases.
While coronavirus cases are rising significantly in nine reopened states, Illinois appears to be trending in the right direction.
On the heels of a Fortune magazine story last week highlighting Illinois as having the largest decrease in cases during the previous two weeks, J.B. Pritzker took the opportunity to tout the state's efforts in curbing the spread of the virus.
Last weekend he tweeted: "We’ve continued to listen to our epidemiologists and follow the data. Illinois is on the right track because all of you are #AllInIllinois. Let's keep it up!"
While it's too early to take a victory lap, the news is worth celebrating.
As of Thursday, Illinois dropped from the top spot and was replaced by Massachusetts, but the state is still in the largest decrease category, according to a Fortune analysis.
Cases in nine states, including Arizona, Florida and Alabama continue to rise significantly after reopening. However, we should point out Wisconsin, which also reopened earlier than Illinois, is trending positively.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported on Wednesday a total of 134,185 cases, including 6,485 deaths statewide. The recovery rate remains 93% in Illinois.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 29,987 testing specimens for a total of 1,258,328.
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate from June 10-16 is 3%.
Pritzker's stay-at-home order and closing of non-essential businesses as well as limitations on gatherings received much backlash during the past several months. These steps were taken earlier than many other states, and the reopening plan has been cautious. Some may claim reopening the economy has been painfully slow, but it seems the goal of curbing the state's coronavirus cases is on track.
All signs point to the state moving to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan by June 26, which entails opening indoor seating for bars and restaurants and movie theaters. Manufacturing, health and fitness centers, as well as schools, also can open, and gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed.
"I’m very proud of where we have gone to, where we’ve come to," Pritzker said at a news conference on Monday. "I’m hoping that we can continue that progress.”
The plan has limited the spread of the virus, and that should be applauded. But the virus is not going away. We should continue to be diligent in the months ahead as the state reopens to prevent a resurgence in the virus. We can accomplish this by social distancing as much as possible, wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene.
As some states continue their upswing in cases – the increased COVID-19 transmission in Florida has forced some businesses to shut down after reopening – Pritzker deserves some credit for the decrease in cases in Illinois.
A bit of caution with a strategic reopening plan is the right prescription if Illinois is to stay on the right track.