CHICAGO — Illinois saw a jump of 1,105 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 18 more deaths, the largest increases of cases and fatalities since the pandemic hit the state.
There have now been 4,596 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the state and 65 deaths. A total of 27,762 people have been tested.
There have been 1,882 confirmed cases in Chicago alone.
“No, we have not hit the peak here in Chicago or in the state of Illinois,” Gov. JB Pritkzer said at his daily update on the pandemic. “And we’re going to continue to see an increase, unfortunately, in cases and, likely, deaths.”
Pritzker said current projections show Illinois could hit its peak of cases sometime in April — and there’s not enough hospital capacity for that peak. That’s why the state is rushing to put up more temporary hospitals and to add capacity at existing hospitals, he said.
A projection from the University of Washington predicted Illinois will hit its apex of cases on April 16, and there will be 2,454 deaths across the state by August. That data is being used in Illinois’ own ever-changing models, Pritzker said.
“It is fair to say that most of the models that I’ve seen … show that we’ll be peaking sometime in April in Illinois, and we’re not yet close to that,” Pritzker said. “We have weeks to go.”
As the number of cases grows, Pritzker’s “No. 1 concern” is making sure the health care system is not overwhelmed, he said. Efforts Illinois has made — like its stay at home order — have led to an expected drop in the number of cases that will hit hospitals, Pritzker said, but there are still too many cases expected for Illinois to handle as of now.
“I must tell you there’s not enough capacity [at hosptials] today,” Pritzker said. “That is why you see us building out facilities throughout the state. That’s why you see us building triage centers … .”
For example, the city and state are planning to bring thousands of beds to McCormick Place, Chicago’s famous conference and convention center.
Pritzker said the state is now testing about 4,000 people a day. He hopes to get to 10,000 people a day within 10 days, a benchmark that scientists say is key to give a holistic view of the how Illinois is doing.
“Additional testing can help us better understand the amount of virus circulating in the community,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Pritzker said the slow ramp-up of testing was the result of a failure by the federal government.
“The United States is still trailing other countries in testing on a per capita basis several times over,” he said. “In all the states, we are working to fill the gap. But the most frustrating part of this gap is it’s not just in the past; the White House has promised millions of tests for weeks now and they’re just not here.
“To be clear, I also welcome the testing capacity when it actually arrives. But I’m not going to wait on promises from the federal government that may never be fulfilled. We need this testing capacity now, so we’re building it ourselves in Illinois.”
Illinois’ update came amid an alarming projection from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci said the outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 American and infect millions.
In New York City, there have been 678 deaths and 32,308 confirmed cases.
“I think all of us are praying for the people of New York City,” Pritzker said. At another point, he added, “When you look at New York and you look at other places in the country, and you see how fast the beds are filling … you can’t help but feel that they, too, have been running as hard as they can to create [hospital] capacity and to mitigate and put in orders” like Illinois has.
The governor said he and Illinois experts are keeping a close eye on New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to help the modeling of Illinois’ projections.
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 or cough 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 COVID-19 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 ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.
Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.
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