A Chicago doctor took the podium during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing to ‘set some facts straight’ on misinformation being spread amid a surge in coronavirus cases across Illinois.
Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine, told media while she’s worried about the record high 6,363 coronavirus cases set on Thursday, she’s also worried about ‘misinformation and fatigue’ that she says has grown across the state.
“Today, I want to set some facts straight,” Landon began. “First of all, inconsistent recommendations are not evidence of a conspiracy, nor are inconsistent data. They’re evidence of a changing knowledge and epidemiology.”
Landon went on to explain how different metrics may hold different meaning depending on different variables, like test positivity rate, which has been on a steady rise for nearly all of October, and increased from 6.7% to 6.9% Thursday, marking the highest it has been since at least early June.
“In different situations, different metrics mean different things,” Landon said. “For example, when testing rates are low or changing rapidly, the test positivity rate may not mean quite the same thing as when testing rates are stable, or when the testing rates aren’t increasing as much as the cases.”
According to state officials, Illinois is averaging more than 73,000 COVID-19 tests per day, but cases are rising faster than the amount of testing being performed.
Thursday’s metrics were announced as several counties – making up eight of the state’s 11 healthcare regions- are set for enhanced mitigations, including the shutdown of indoor dining and bar service as well as the limiting of group sizes to 25 people, among other changes.
Republican lawmakers in Lake and McHenry counties, where increased coronavirus restrictions are set to begin Saturday, said they want to see data proving restaurants are a main contributor in coronavirus spread in their region.
But during the briefing Thursday, Pritzker said his team has been providing data everyday he hosts a conference. He added that they are not able to be completely certain where an individual contracted the virus; but, through contact tracing, they saw bars and restaurants were a consistent previous location.
“There are new data coming out every day. Science is learning,” Landon assured. “We change our guidance, because we learn something new. Changing advice should make you feel good that we’re making progress.”