“I think what really turned the corner in Illinois was the use of masking everywhere,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said 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 18, which we detailed here — before his 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 who is in an at-risk group or in contact with those in one should.
The point, instead, is that this is yet another instance of bad “science and data,” which routinely go unquestioned. Instead of working toward 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,” Pinar Keskinocak, an infectious-disease modeler and director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Institute of Technology, was 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, which has fared extremely well despite having no lockdown order since May 13, will too.
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.
According to a CNN data analysis, 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.