SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. JB Pritzker held his first in-person press briefing in two weeks Wednesday afternoon. Pritzker had been in quarantine after a staff member in his office tested positive for COVID-19. The state’s overall positivity rate significantly changed during that time. Now, officials are warning families to prepare for safe holiday celebrations.
The statewide 7-day rolling positivity rate is back up to 4.6% and the number of people hospitalized has jumped significantly.
Pritzker says people have to “mask up” to lower the number of new infections. Epidemiologists are also concerned small family gatherings are one of the most prevalent ways that COVID-19 is spread. The governor says Illinoisans should take extra precautions planning any holiday travel and hosting of parties.
“Many people who have erred on the side of caution up until now might face new temptation to let their guard down. Well, let me be blunt,” Pritzker said. “This virus isn’t taking a holiday. It only wants to find new hosts.”
Dr. Ngozi Ezike says those hosting holiday gatherings should plan outdoor activities as much as possible. She also suggests limiting exposure two weeks before a party. Ezike noted people should think of having their guests bring masks to wear any time they’re not eating or drinking during parties.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also suggests people avoid buffet-style or potluck settings for food during gatherings. Ezike explained families may want to pre-plate food for guests.
“We all want to be around our family and friends during the holidays, but if you are sick please understand that you need to stay home,” Ezike added. “Don’t assume that your symptoms are not serious. Don’t assume that they aren’t COVID, don’t assume that you’re not contagious.”
IDPH also warned travel increases the possibility of spreading the virus. Ezike said planes usually don’t allow for six feet between others. She noted traveling by bus or train could have the same issues over the length of a trip. Road trips by car often include several stops at gas stations and rest areas.
“All of these forms of traveling can be made safer if you use your mask and continue to wash your hands,” Ezike emphasized.
Click here for more holiday safety guidance.