CHICAGO — A somber Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday another 73 people in Illinois have died from the coronavirus, the largest daily increase in deaths the state has seen, although officials say it will likely get worse.
There have now been 380 deaths in Illinois. Health officials have predicted the state could see its peak in new cases in mid- to late April, but they’ve warned nothing is certain.
“There are so many tragedies here,” Pritzker said during his Tuesday briefing. “It’s OK to let yourself feel all the pain that there is to feel today. I too am grieving, but I want you to know my grief is only fueling my efforts to fight this virus — and win.
“Let these numbers today be a terrible reminder that this pandemic is deadly seriously. So stay at home.”
There have now been 13,549 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois. An additional 1,287 positive cases were added in the past 24 hours.
Coronavirus patients are using 3,680 hospital beds of the state’s 28,139, and they’re using 1,166 ICU beds of the state’s 2,709, according to state data. About 43 percent of the state’s total hospital beds are available, and just 35 percent of ICU beds are available, though Pritzker noted some hospitals have more beds available — and some have less, with several around Chicago almost full.
Data shows just 24.7 percent of Chicago’s ICU beds are available, for example.
And 821 confirmed COVID-19 patients are using the state’s 2,791 ventilators, with just 57 percent still available. The state has ordered another 3,620 ventilators, and the first of those to come will be delivered this month.
Meanwhile, Pritzker said a member of his staff tested positive for the virus Tuesday morning, but the unidentified person is recovering and has been self-quarantining since March 26, when the staffer was sent home.
The majority of other staffers were also sent home that day, and the Thompson Center office’s were deep cleaned, the governor said.
It has been 12 days since the staffer was sent home, and no other workers in the governor’s office have fallen ill, he said. Pritzker said he did not have regular close contact with the staffer and has not been tested.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, shared positive news during her remarks, saying a large number of people have told the state they’ve recovered just seven days after a confirmed positive test.
Ezike said 43 percent of the people who responded to an electronic survey said they’ve recovered after seven days.
Ezike continued to urge people to respect the state’s orders to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.
“In normal battles, you show up to the fight — but for this, this battle, the winning strategy is to stay at home. It’s to retreat, to stay in the house,” she said. “We want to turn this tide and end the pandemic as soon as possible.”
And in Pritzker’s ongoing back-and-forth with President Donald Trump, the governor said Trump was partially accurate Monday night when he characterized Pritzker as happy with the federal response during a conference call.
Pritzker said he was indeed pleased with how well the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked with local contractors to build an emergency hospital at McCormick Place. But he again said he’s repeatedly expressed his displeasure to the president, the vice president and White House staffers about other parts of the response.
He also said, when reflecting on what he might have done differently in the past several months, he wished he knew what the federal government knew months ago about the virus.
“I wish I knew about this in January like when the intelligence agencies seemed to know about it,” he said. “We could have begun building ventilators ourselves.”
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
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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