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Pritzker: Illinois' rising postivity rate 'very concerning,' urges residents to keep wearing masks

Illinois has set a new high for the month of July in confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. A total of 1,598 more people tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker again cautioned residents to remain vigilant during a Wednesday news conference. As other states across the country continue to see high case counts, particularly in the south, the governor said his office and the Illinois Department of Public Health are keeping a close eye on Illinois’ rising positivity rate.

“We’ve seen real progress over these last four and a half months, but our numbers now appear to be gradually rising,” Pritzker said. “And that’s very concerning.”

Illinois’ positivity rate is at 3.2%, up from 2.6% two weeks ago. IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said the rise in cases is not a result of more testing.

“If you do more testing, your positivity should go down,” Ezike said. “For it to stay flat suggests we’re seeing increased transmission.”

An increase was expected when Illinois moved to Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, Ezike said.

Every state surrounding Illinois has “double or triple our positivity rate,” the governor said. Even so, Pritzker has no plans to stop people from coming in and out of Illinois. Nor, the governor said Wednesday, does he have the power to do so.

That means Illinoisans need to double down on the tactics that helped the state limit the spread in June.

Pritzker said choosing to go out in public without a mask is not a political statement.

“It demonstrates a callous disregard for the people in your community and in your county and in our state and our nation,” Pritzker said. “The enemy is not your mask. If you’re not wearing a mask in public, you’re endangering everyone around you, so the enemy is you.”

Ezike likened not wearing a mask to not wearing a seat belt in a car. Seat belts save lives, Ezike said, and so do face coverings.

“So what’s the controversy?” Ezike said.

Unemployment scam: Pritzker warned residents about a scam uncovered by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Anyone who did not apply for unemployment benefits but who receives an IDES debit card in the mail should immediately call IDES at 800-814-0513. Do not activate the debit card and have credit reports checked for potential fraud.

According to an IDES news release, scammers likely are using people’s personal information to apply for unemployment benefits. They likely obtained personal information through a prior cyber hack or data breach, potentially years ago, such as the Equifax breach in 2017.

Pritzker said this scam is happening in every state.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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