Saying some youth sports still pose a risk of spreading the coronavirus, Gov. JB Pritzker Wednesday doubled down on his decision to postpone some high school sports until the spring.
Pritzker further dug in ahead of planned weekend rallies in Springfield and Chicago to press for high school football and other sports traditionally held in the fall.
At a Chicago briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, Pritzker said that while some professional and college sports have gone on during the pandemic, both are taking precautions like daily testing of athletes that are beyond the means of most high schools. Even then, he said, there have been coronavirus outbreaks among both professional and collegiate teams.
"I'm not a scientist, but I do know how to listen to the experts and follow the latest data," Pritzker said. "Under no circumstances will I put children and their families at risk. I want out kids back on the playing field or on the ice as much as anyone. And we'll get there when the doctors say it is safe," he said."
Dr. Michael Lin, an infectious disease specialist at Rush University Medical Center, said COVID-19 is spread through person-to-person contact which makes sports like football and hockey potentially super spreader events.
It isn't just activities on the field that can spread the virus, he said. Close contact in locker rooms, gyms and while traveling as a team to games can also "provide a perfect storm of conditions to enable the virus to spread quickly."
"Prevention steps such as postponing contact sports, as hard as it may seem on our children, will reduce infections and save lives," he said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said Wednesday there were 1,941 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the state, bringing the total to 266,151. The statewide positivity rate is 3.7%.
There were also 35 additional deaths from the virus, bringing that total to 8,367.
Also Wednesday, Pritzker announced another 30 day extension on the moratorium against evicting tenants who have been unable to keep up rent payments because of the pandemic.