Amid signs that the growth in COVID-19 cases may be leveling off, Evanston reported eight new cases today, raising the total here to 156, and the statewide count rose by 1,293 to a total of 19,180.

There were 554 new cases in Chicago for a total of 7,784.

The state reported 81 new deaths today for a total of 677. Chicago reported 31 new deaths for a total of 249. Evanston reported one new death for a total of five..

The chart above shows Evanston’s daily count of new cases along with the seven-day-average of new cases, which smooths day-to-day variations and may provide a better indication of when the city has started to “bend-the-curve” enough to signal that the peak of the pandemic here has passed.

The equivalent data for the state as a whole is shown below.

The rolling average of new cases in the state now has been close to flat for three days and for Evanston it’s been relatively flat for five days.

But state officials continue to caution that it’s too early to say that the pandemic here is under control and that even if the count of new cases starts to trend down, it will still be too soon to ease social distancing restrictions,

At his news conference this afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state still needs:

  • The ability to conduct far more tests for the disease.
  • Capacity to do contact tracing on many more people who may fall ill.
  • The ability to do widespread testing of people who’ve had COVID-19 to see if they’ve developed antibodies and may be immune.
  • A treatment that can cure people of the disease.
  • A vaccine to prevent people from getting the disease.

Until at least most of those capabilities are in place, the governor suggested, many social distancing restrictions will need to remain in place, lest the state suffer a resurgence of the disease outbreak that could be even worse than the current one.

The governor and Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike also strongly cautioned people to resist the urge to attend church services or gather with family members tomorrow on Easter Sunday. Instead, they said, people should stay and home and visit virtually — with video or telephone connections.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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