SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — After another record-breaking day in Illinois for new coronavirus infections this weekend, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday again implored residents to do all they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the untreatable virus.

“Cases, (test) positivity, hospitalizations, are all rising across the state of Illinois, and we have got to reverse the trend and slow the spread of this virus,” Pritzker said at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. “ ... This is not over. There seems to be a COVID storm on the rise, and we have to get prepared.”

Illinois on Saturday recorded 6,161 new cases of COVID-19, 1,200 more than the previous record set two days earlier. On Monday, there was another 4,729 additional cases, with 17 deaths, totaling 9,522 fatalities among 378,985 cases in the state. Though many people recover after contracting COVID-19, growing evidence reveals the virus' long-lasting and even debilitating after-effects.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization suggest that a 5% rate of positive COVID-19 tests is manageable. On Monday, Illinois' positivity rate was 6.3%, up two percentage points from two weeks prior.

The number of people hospitalized was 2,638, up half again over the 874 hospitalized two weeks ago. And there were 56% increases in during the same period in both the number of people in intensive care units (589) and on ventilators (238).

Earlier Monday, the administration announced that two more of the state's COVID-19 monitoring regions will face “resurgence mitigations” starting Wednesday. Region 4, the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis, and Region 10, most of Lake County and part of Cook County north of Chicago, must limit gatherings to 25 people and bars and restaurants can only serve outdoors until 11 p.m. All told, six of the 11 regions are under mitigations because of rising COVID-19 indicators.

As she has countless times before, Dr. Ngoze Ezike, the state public health director, reminded about how to keep the virus at bay: frequent hand-washing, staying at least 6 feet away from other people, and wearing a covering over the nose and mouth in public.

“Just to be clear, it’s not pick two or ... pick your favorite one,” Ezike said. “It’s all of them.”

In answer to a reporter’s question, Ezike addressed a moment during last Friday’s briefing when she was overcome with emotion. Ezike said she succumbed to “frustration and maybe some fear and some discouragement.” She said added that she's received messages of support from across the state and internationally.

“Maybe, in retrospect, it was some kind of cathartic release, and hopefully after that now we can put our boots back on and continue the fight,” Ezike said.


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