CHICAGO — The number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois jumped to 288 Wednesday, up 128 from the previous day, state officials said.
Gov. JB Pritzker, speaking at a press conference in downstate Murphysboro, said the state’s largest one-day jump in cases is partially attributed to increased testing. But coronavirus is also spreading, he warned.
“People of all ages, from 9 to 99, have contracted COVID-19,” the governor said. “We know it is spreading. This virus knows no boundaries.”
Said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health: “I’m not saying this lightly, but unfortunately, the grim truth is these numbers will continue to grow significantly, as will, likely, the unfortunate statistic of fatalities.”
No additional deaths were reported Wednesday. The state saw its first fatality Tuesday, when a 61-year-old retired nurse with a history of breathing problems died, officials said. Patricia Frieson lived in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.
Pritzker and Ezike again warned people to practice social distancing and to stay home to avoid contracting the virus and spreading it. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could have coronavirus and not know.
“You should just assume that you may have coronavirus. Just assume that,” Pritzker said. “What would you do? You should self-isolate.”
Ezike urged people to do their part so hospitals don’t get overwhelmed with patients.
“The drastic steps we’re taking now are what we have to do,” Ezike said. “It will decrease the number of people who become infected. With fewer people infected, there’s less illness. With less illness, fewer people need care.”
And people should not insist on being tested for now as testing supplies are still limited, Pritzker said. More tests have become available — and more are expected in the near future — but those should be saved for the people most at risk from coronavirus.
People who think they have the virus should stay home and self-isolate if they are otherwise healthy, officials said. There is no medicine for coronavirus.
Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.
Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.
The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The most common symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat, according to Harvard Medical School.
If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.
How To Protect Yourself
The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear facemasks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.
Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:
- The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
- Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.
What To Do If You Think You’re Sick
Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.
If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home.
Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.
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