Illinois watches for post-Thanksgiving coronavirus surge; first Pfizer doses arrive at O'Hare

Illinois governor
Gov. JB Pritzker Photo credit Facebook

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday sounded doubtful that the state’s latest COVID-related restrictions will be eased any time soon, considering that some households may have gone against expert advice and mingled over Thanksgiving.

The governor said officials must monitor coronavirus metrics to see if there is a post-holiday spike in the number of infections, hospitalizations or deaths.

“My prayer — our collective prayer — is that everyone stays healthy and that the numbers continue their downward trajectory,” Pritzker said at his administration’s latest media briefing about the virus.

Health authorities had urged people not to celebrate Thanksgiving in-person with people from outside their respective bubbles. Pritzker said immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier Monday raised the specter that many Americans ignored the advice and that a bigger surge of coronavirus may be imminent.

Pritzker earlier this month imposed stricter ‘Tier 3’ rules that limit capacity at retail stores, supermarkets and pharmacies and which closed venues such as theaters and museums.

“No region will be downgraded from our current Tier 3 mitigations, even if they might be on track to meet those metrics,” Pritzker said. “We are still very much in a precarious place, and we have got to take the time to evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments.”

There is a statewide ban on indoor dining and bar service. Pritzker said he hopes mitigation strategies will help him avoid issuing another blanket “stay-at-home” order.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,190 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus, including 85 additional deaths. Although numbers have flattened somewhat in recent days, Illinois hospitals are in jeopardy of being overwhelmed, officials say.

Also Monday, Pritzker was asked about an NBC News report that the first doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine had arrived at O’Hare International Airport. The drug maker awaits federal emergency approval to begin distributing its promising vaccine candidate, which requires ultra-cold storage.

Pritzker speculated the vaccine shipment may have been on its way to a Pfizer warehouse near Kenosha, Wisconsin, but said he wasn’t sure. Illinois is making plans to inoculate medical workers and first-responders once the FDA gives the go-ahead on any vaccines.