By: Mark Glennon*
“I think what really turned the corner in Illinois was the use of masking everywhere,” said Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday.
That doesn’t square with the state’s own data.
Pritzker’s order on face masks became effective on May 1. He issued the order on April 23.
But the state’s numbers clearly show that the virus peaked in Illinois between April 15 and April 18, which we detailed here – before his face mask rule.
Let me be clear. I am not saying masks are not effective or that they should not be worn. While I am well aware of the controversy about their effectiveness, I wear one and I think the balance of the evidence says it’s best to do so. I also follow most social distancing rules and think everybody should who is in an at-risk group or in contact with those who are.
The point, instead, is that this is yet another instance of bad “science and data,” which routinely go unquestioned. Instead of working towards a true understanding of what’s behind the course of the virus we get politicized claptrap from politicians.
The trend in Illinois has been consistently good since mid-April, as we wrote earlier, which Pritzker and his administration have been regularly boasting about.
Why the good trend?
I for one don’t know because the data and experts vary so much here and across the country. However, what’s clear is that nothing illuminating is coming out of the Pritzker Administration and many elements of his reopening plan are make no sense on their face.
Current trends in many other states are very troubling, particularly Arizona, Florida and Texas. The most balanced assessment of this new uptick is in a Wednesday Wall Street Journal article, we think.
The problem, again, is figuring out what’s behind those trends, and it’s not as simple as crediting masks or lockdown orders. “Putting it all together, it’s very difficult to tease out specifically why we see an increase,” said Pinar Keskinocak, an infectious-disease modeler and director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Institute of Technology quoted in the Journal. “But in general we can expect more interaction. We’re going to see more cases.”
Maybe Illinois will see a resurgence. Maybe Wisconsin will as well, which has fared extremely well despite having no lockdown order since May 13.
If that happens and Illinois needs to adjust course, it will be worth remembering the full history. It shows that, despite recent trends, Illinois is among the poorest performers based on total numbers of deaths and cases per capita. Illinois lost 53 people per 100,000 of population, which is 2.6 times more than Arizona, 3.5 times more than Florida and 6.6 times more than Texas. Full rankings are here.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.
Read more about COVID-19 and the impact on Illinois:
- New North Carolina antibody study shows far more people infected with COVID-19 than official numbers show
- Pritzker has no excuse to extend his shutdown of Illinois. His own data says reopen.
- New study finds ‘no evidence’ of COVID outbreak in Wisconsin after lockdown order voided; other metrics continue to improve
- COVID-19 spreads to half of all Chicagoland retirement homes. How did this happen?
- COVID-19 deaths and pre-existing conditions. What IL data says about who’s at risk
- Facing Growing Defiance, Pritzker Thumbs Nose at AG Opinion, Insults and Threatens Dissidents
- Pritzker’s overly-restrictive shutdown rules make Illinois a national outlier
- Half of Illinois’ deaths linked to retirement homes. Five key facts you should know.