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Coronavirus

Illinois adds 488 cases of COVID-19, 8 new deaths; state surpasses 3,000 total cases

Chicago police block access to the Lake Shore Drive pedestrian bridge leading to the Lakefront Trail in Chicago as the city closes the area to pedestrians amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday morning, March 26, 2020.
Chicago police block access to the Lake Shore Drive pedestrian bridge leading to the Lakefront Trail in Chicago as the city closes the area to pedestrians amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday morning, March 26, 2020.

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Illinois has 488 additional cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday.

The state has now seen 3,026 confirmed cases and 34 total deaths. The state has tested 21,542 people as of Friday afternoon.

According to IDPH data updated Friday afternoon, Chicago has seen 1,364 confirmed cases. The rest of Cook County has 875. Lake County has 230, and announced its first two deaths on Friday. DuPage has 199 cases, Will 104, Kane 75, McHenry 45, Kendall eight, DeKalb four, La Salle three, Grundy two and Whiteside two. The virus has now spread to at least 40 counties in Illinois.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said 86% of COVID-19 deaths in Illinois have been people 60 and older. She also said the greatest number of hospitalizations have come from people 65 and older.

“We must continue to do all we can to protect our older adults,” Ezike said.

Asked if the increase in positive cases is due to an increase in testing or an increase in the virus’ spread through Illinois communities, Gov. JB Pritzker said, “Both.”

“We’re only doing so many tests,” Pritzker said. “There’s a limit to the number of tests we can do. We’re increasing the tests, but not enough. There’s a vast majority more people out there who have COVID-19 than we are currently testing.

“In many places, many hospitals are simply assuming that if you have a deep respiratory cough, trouble breathing and a fever, without even testing, they are often now just assuming you are COVID-positive because they don’t have a test to offer to everybody.”

Those individuals are not included in the state's offical tallies.

According to IDPH data released Friday, the state received test results from just under 5,000 tests between Thursday and Friday. That daily number has grown significantly from what it was even two weeks ago.

Ezike said that allowing other entities, such as universities and private hospitals, to perform tests has helped increase testing in Illinois. According to Ezike, workers at IDPH’s labs in Chicago, Springfield and Carbondale are now doing two shifts per day to ramp up the number of tests.

The state has, so far, not distributed any figures on how many COVID-19 cases have resulted in hospitalizations, as some other states have done. Pritzker said his team will be working on that over the weekend.

“Over history, that data has been collected in different ways,” Pritzker said. “We want to make sure it’s all in one system.”

Earlier this week, Pritzker outlined how many hospital beds the state would need in a worst-case scenario. As of Tuesday, about half of the state’s 26,000 non-ICU hospital beds and 1,100 of the state’s 2,600 ICU hospital beds remained available. Those numbers, however, don’t indicate how many beds are currently in use by COVID-19 patients.

In just the past few days, the state has received more than 510 applications to return to the health care field from people who had previously left the field or retired.

“If you have recently retired or left the profession to start a new career, please come back to work for at least the next few months to help us battle against COVID-19,” Ezike said.

An additional 1,000 health care workers have volunteered since March 19 through Illinoishelps.net.

The governor was again asked if the “stay-at-home” order in Illinois would extend past April 7. Pritzker said “we evaluate this every day,” but did not say one way or another.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved Thursday to close down Chicago’s parks. While state parks in Illinois are already closed, Pritzker said he has encouraged local governments to keep "an eye out to see if people are adhering" to the stay-at-home order.

"Many places in Illinois, people are doing exactly what we asked," Pritzker said.

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