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Coronavirus

Pritzker: Illinois won't return to normal until sometime in 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker wears a face mask May 21 during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic held in his office at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
Gov. JB Pritzker wears a face mask May 21 during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic held in his office at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

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Illinois has seen its COVID-19 positivity rate climb for seven out of the past eight days, and with the numbers headed in the wrong direction, Gov. JB Pritzker had a sobering message for the state while visiting the Adams County Public Health Department in western Illinois.

“We don’t have to do this forever. We’re not there yet. And frankly, we’re not going to be there until 2021, in my humble opinion," he said. “I’m not a doctor, but that’s what my observation is, that we’re not going to be able to take off the mask and go about everything we were doing seven, eight months ago for a few more months, maybe six-plus months.”

After the state recorded fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day for 34 consecutive days during June and July, the number has topped 1,000 on 14 of the past 19 days, according to state statistics.

“Things are not moving in the right direction,” Pritzker said during a stop Rock Island, where, as in Quincy earlier and Rockford later, he met with local health officials.

A return to what might resemble pre-pandemic life also depends on the development of treatments and a vaccine. On Monday, the U.S. began the world's largest study of a COVID-19 vaccine. The experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., has 30,000 planned volunteers to study the safety and efficacy of its vaccine.

Next up in August, the final study of the Oxford shot begins, followed by plans to test a candidate from Johnson & Johnson in September and Novavax in October – if all goes according to schedule. Pfizer Inc. plans its own 30,000-person study this summer.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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