Dear Friends,
According to recent numbers, Illinois is down to about half the daily COVID-19 deaths and new cases as in our peak month of May. Our positivity rate has held steady at about 2.7 percent. But in neighboring states, it’s climbing higher, and I fear that if we aren’t careful in Illinois, we will face a surge of new cases. What we do in the near future will decide our fate, and it all starts with this holiday weekend.
I know what the 4 th of July is supposed to look like: backyard cookouts, groups of friends at the beach, and family reunions around a grill in the local park. But as much as we’d like for the virus to be gone, it’s still out there, and it’s killing Chicagoans every single day.
Remember what those early days of the pandemic felt like? I do—they felt like a numbing nightmare. On Facebook, I watched as more and more friends posted personal stories of fear for themselves and their infected loved ones. Then came the tributes and virtual memorials as the death count climbed.
I don’t want Illinois or Chicago to ever return to the horror that other states and cities are facing right now. But as I watch Illinois enter Phase 4 of its re-opening plan, I worry that Chicagoans may think we’ve cleared our obstacles. In truth, enormous pitfalls lay squarely in our path if we aren’t careful.
To be sure, there are differences between our state and the ones that are now experiencing disastrous outbreaks. Many of those opened long before it was prudent, while strong, steady leadership here helped Illinois suppress the virus before many of our daily activities were greenlighted. But as individuals, our haste to return to normal and soak up the glorious months of summer—something we feel we’re richly owed every year after enduring Chicago winters—may be leading too many people to flock to the beach, gather at house parties and invite friends and family over for cookouts – all without masks.
Only constant vigilance—through wearing a mask, washing our hands and keeping distant, even from our family and friends whom we love so much—will protect us and keep us on the right track.
Be well,
Melissa Conyears-Ervin