Skip to contents

Coronavirus In Chicago: 3 More Deaths In Illinois, Schools Could Stay Closed, No Shelter-In-Place Yet

The number of cases in the state rose to 422, up 134 from Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
  • Credibility:

CHICAGO — Three more people in Illinois have died from the novel coronavirus, raising the state’s total to four with more expected.

Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker said he hasn’t made a decision on instituting “shelter-in-place” restrictions, but he said all options are being considered. He acknowledged the closures of schools in the state, originally scheduled to end March 31, could be pushed back.

“Parents should be contemplating the possibility that could be extended,” the governor said.

Pritzker made the announcements Downtown during his daily coronavirus press conference. One of the new victims was a Cook County woman in her 80s. Another was a man in Will County. The third was a person visiting Sangamon County from Florida.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of these patients,” Pritzker said.

Overall, the number of cases in the state rose to 422, up 134 from Wednesday. Pritzker said the spike is due in part to more people being tested. More than 1,000 people per day are now being tested, with more and more testing expected.

“Our total case count continues to grow exponentially,” Pritzker said, noting the spikes aren’t just a result of more testing, but also more infections.

Four out of five people nationally have contracted the virus from someone who didn’t know they had it, he said.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said positive cases have now been reported in 22 Illinois counties.

Pritzker said he’s still considering more drastic steps to slow the spread, such as the shelter-in-place restrictions like those instituted in suburban Oak Park and in San Fransciso.

“We’ve seen measures adopted in other countries as well as places in the United States, like San Francisco, and we’re looking at every aspect of those steps to understand how best to keep Illinoisans safe,” he said.

But he reminded people that even under those restrictions, interstates, highways, grocery stores, gas stations and more would remain open.

“There is no need to run out and hoard food, gas or medicine,” he said. “Buy what you need within reason. There is enough to go around as long as people do not hoard.”

Watch the livestream of the governor’s press conference here:


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:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • 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.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.