Illinois best in COVID testing, Pritzker says

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday continued to champion Illinois as a leader in testing for COVID-19 during a period when he faces some of the sharpest criticism for his social restrictions to stop the virus.

Two days after announcing that Illinois had become the fifth state to conduct more than 5 million tests, the Democrat said it is averaging 52,000 tests a day to become “the best testing state between the two coasts.”

“Those accomplishments contribute mightily to our ability to monitor and squash the spread of the virus in our communities,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Chicago. “Together with targeted mitigations, our testing leadership means that Illinois has had the lowest positivity rate among all of our neighboring states for the last few months.”

Pritzker has faced withering criticism in recent weeks for refusing to backtrack on his decision to postpone some fall sports — including much-beloved high school football — because of the risk of transmitting COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus infection.

Public health officials reported 1,848 new infections on Wednesday, with 22 additional deaths. Illinois has now witnessed 8,508 deaths among 279,114 infections since the pandemic hit Illinois in late winter.