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We Have To Learn To ‘Co-Exist’ With COVID-19

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, speaks at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Chicago, where it was announced that the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of the new virus from China involves the man married to the Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, China. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

With Illinois public health officials cautiously optimistic the latest wave of COVID-19 is subsiding, some continue their push for a thorough review of the past 23 months.

High COVID-19 vaccine rates and continued declines in hospitalizations – those were some of the high points Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike laid out Wednesday during a news conference.

The state’s seven-day hospital rates have declined at a rate of nearly 2%. Ezike said she’s cautiously optimistic.

“Two years into the pandemic, we’ve learned so much, we’ve amassed so much knowledge, we have to figure out how we’re going to live, how we’re going to coexist with COVID,” Ezike said.

The addition of new anit-viral medications going out will help.

“I think the quantities are very limited right now but as those increase those will also be a game changer to allow us to pivot from everything being COVID, COVID, COVID,” Ezike said.

IDPH said Tuesday that 3,160 doses of Pfizer’s therapy and 12,600 doses of Merck’s therapy are being distributed. The antivirals are by prescription only for high-risk populations with mild-to-moderate symptoms. Distribution is based on population in each region.

Ezike is no longer interested in case rates, but more focused on hospitalizations. Without providing specific data, Ezike acknowledged that not every person in the hospital who tests positive for COVID-19 is there because of COVID.

“They might have come in for the hip surgery but then are found to have COVID, which is still significant because of the special precautions that need to be taken for anyone who has COVID,” she said.

But some are still looking for more transparency.

State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said Republicans in both legislative chambers have for more than a year been demanding hearings on a range of issues, but have been “rebuffed.”

“It’s very disheartening because I think the public deserves to know and I think this administration has let Illinois down in how it’s treated COVID,” Caulkins told WMAY.

Caulkins said the public deserves to see the science and data behind the continued mandates like masks in schools and other issues.

The governor has issued 22 consecutive 30-day disaster proclamations related to COVID-19 and has issued dozens of executive orders since the spring of 2020.



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