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Illinois Passes 300 Coronavirus Deaths As 33 More People Die In Past Day

There have been 307 deaths and 12,262 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, according to the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a press conference on the updates about COVID-19 in Illinois on Friday, March 20, 2020 in Chicago.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Illinois saw an additional 1,006 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 33 deaths, state officials announced Monday.

Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker said residents should do whatever they can to stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, including considering avoiding grocery stores for the next few weeks as the state continues its grim climb to the anticipated apex of new cases.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, on Sunday first made the grocery recommendation. Pritzker said he hadn’t heard that advice but it was an excellent suggestion, suggesting people try to stock up so they can avoid the store for 14 days.

“The less interaction that people have over an extended period of time, the more likely it is that we’re gonna be bending this curve,” he said.

There have now been at least 307 deaths and 12,262 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, according to the state.

More than 70 percent of the deaths have had a contributing factor, with the most common being diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Ezike urged people not to congregate outside even as the weather warms as expected Tuesday.

“You don’t want to be the person that spreads the virus to a health care worker,” she said. “Everyone’s actions matter. They’re critical. Stay inside. If you absolutely must go out, please cover your nose and mouth.”

Pritzker also called on people to stay home and continue social distancing even with holidays such as Passover and Easter approaching. He suggested using the Zoom online video app to have a “Zeder” instead of a Seder.

“This is an important holy time of year. I want very much for people to experience the spirituality that they normally would,” he said. “We live in a very difficult time. And I would suggest that, unfortunately, we all should start to think about how we’re gonna use technology in order for us to gather, in order to hear our pastor or our rabbi or our imam or whoever we worship with, to listen to them and to worship online, perhaps by video or by phone. And to connect with family in the same way.”

The governor also again called on the federal government to step up its efforts to provide more tests for the deadly virus and to fulfill orders for personal protective equipment.

The governor, who has sparred with President Donald Trump for weeks about the federal response, said if the state relied on the strategic stockpile for personal protective equipment, health care workers would be running short already.

Instead, state efforts to procure supplies have helped fill the gap, he said.

“If we had relied upon the White House … our state, and nearly every state in the United States, would come up short and could not protect our health care workers and first responders. But here’s the good news: We haven’t trusted what we were told by the White House,” Pritzker said.

So far, Illinois has ordered nearly 10 million N95 masks, 7 million surgical masks, over 19 million gloves, 5 million face shields and 3 million gowns, among other things, Pritzker said. But there’s a “worldwide shortage that has us racing the clock” and fighting over governments, including the federal government.

As for ventilators, Pritzker said the state’s hospitals “are doing OK when it comes to ventilators.”

But because Pritzker is uncertain that will hold, he and others within the state continue to search for unused ventilators.

Illinois has found unused ventilators in dental offices and elective surgery centers, Pritzker said.

“I’ve been on the phone with the head of Ford Motor Company, which is about to come out with their version of a ventilator,” he said. “General Motors. … And I’m just one person on the phone about ventilators.”


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

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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