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Pritzker calls for national mask mandate as Illinois hospitalizations rise

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is calling for a national mandate on masks, saying that it “might be the most important thing we can do to save lives.″

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is calling for a national mandate on masks, saying that it “might be the most important thing we can do to save lives.″

Illinois mandated masks in public spaces on May 1, one of the first U.S. states to do so. Pritzker, a Democrat and frequent critic of President Donald Trump, says his state's move “aligns with our most significant downward shifts in our infection rate.″

The governor told a U.S. House committee on Wednesday: “It’s not too late for the federal government to make an impact – in fact, it’s more important than ever.″

Pritzker testified before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

“In the midst of a global pandemic states were forced to play some sort of sick “Hunger Games” game show to save the lives of our people," the governor said. "Let me be clear, this is not a reality TV show. There are real things that are happening in the United States."

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The governor's testimony came as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 980 new COVID-19 cases and an additional 36 deaths on Wednesday.

That is the highest number of cases in a single day in the state since June 5.

The department announced that 2.99% of 32,742 total tests in the previous 24 hours came back positive. Illinois has now seen 149,432 total cases of the virus and 7,099 people have died. A total of 1,842,576 tests have been run.

As of late Tuesday night, Illinois had 1,518 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, an increase of 133 patients in the past day. Of those virus patients in the hospital, 331 were in the ICU and 151 were on ventilators.

Regional update: The Northeast region (Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, McHenry, Lake and Will counties) reported a positivity rate average of 4%. The region reported an average of 34% of medical/surgical beds available, 44% of ICU beds available and 74% of ventilators available.

The North Central region (Bureau, DeKalb, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Putnam and Jo Daviess counties) reported a positivity rate rolling average of 3%. On average, the region has enough medical/surgical beds to accommodate a 47% surge in COVID-19 cases. The region reported that 56% of ICU beds are available and 79% of ventilators are available.

The Central region reported an average positivity rate of 2%. On average, there was an availability of 41% of medical/surgical beds, 49% of ICU beds and 80% of ventilators.

The Southern region had an average positivity rate of 4%. On average, there was an availability of 44% of medical/surgical beds, 49% of ICU beds and 78% of ventilators.

Newly reported deaths include:

- Champaign County: 2 males 70s

- Cook County: 1 male 40s, 2 males 50s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 4 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 2 males 80s

- DuPage County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s 1 male 80s

- Kane County: 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s

- Lake County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s

- McHenry County: 2 females 70s

- McLean County: 1 female 70s

- St. Clair County: 1 female 30s, 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s 

- Winnebago County: 2 males 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s