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Another 42 People Die From Coronavirus In Illinois As Surge In Cases Worsens

There have now been 141 deaths in Illinois from the pandemic and 6,980 confirmed cases. The latter is a jump of 986 cases since Tuesday.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, former director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, speaks at a press conference about COVID-19 in Illinois on March 20 in Chicago.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — An additional 42 people died in Illinois from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a surge state and local experts warned was coming and will worsen over the next month.

There have now been 141 deaths in Illinois from the pandemic and 6,980 confirmed cases. The latter is a jump of 986 cases since Tuesday.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, announced the new deaths during Gov. JB Pritzker’s daily briefing on coronavirus. She said the growth in cases, though expected, is “sobering news.”

“The coming weeks are going to get more and more difficult as the number of cases and deaths continue to rise,” she said. “But I’m not urging people to despair. Let’s be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified. Don’t be discouraged. The courageous actions we need to take are well within our grasp.”

Ezike implored people to wash their hands, stay at home and clean frequently touched surfaces.

“All of these things seem minimal, but these are the courageous things that are going to save lives and eventually end this pandemic,” she said.

Illinois’ coronavirus cases are expected to peak in mid- to late April, though no one is certain how many days the peak will last and how many people will get sick and die.

Pritzker again urged people with any health care experience to volunteer to help Illinois’ fight against coronavirus, saying there are not currently enough health care workers to deal with the expected surge of patients in Illinois.

There is enough staff to handle the first 500 hospital beds that are being set up at McCormick Place, Pritzker said, “but we need more” to handle the expected 3,000 beds — and, with them, patients — that will be there by the end of the month.


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 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.

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

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