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Illinois Sees Fewest Coronavirus Deaths In 6 Days, Raising Hopes Of A Plateau

In the past 24 hours, 43 people died from COVID-19 infections, raising the state's death total to 720.

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 its fewest deaths from coronavirus in six days, but it’s still too soon to say if the state has reached its peak, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Sunday.

In the past 24 hours, 43 people died from COVID-19 infections, raising the state’s death total to 720.

Illinois also saw 1,672 new confirmed cases in the past day, bringing the total number in the state to 20,852. Pritzker said many of those people have already recovered.

Pritzker noted the percentage of people whose tests came back positive has been consistent despite more testing being done, suggesting Illinois is making progress and could see case levels begin to drop. So far, Illinois has done 100,735 coronavirus tests.

“I’ve spoken before about a stabilizing or a bending of the curve, and today is one more piece of evidence that it may indeed be happening,” Pritzker said at his daily media briefing. “The percent of those tests that came up positive is almost exactly the same as it has been for the latest two weeks. And the death toll today is lower than it has been in six days.

“I pray as we move forward that these trends continue, and if they do, it will be because of you adhering to the stay at home order.”

During an abbreviated briefing because of Easter, Pritzker urged residents to use their time at home to fill out the census at, and he thanked Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, for donating 100,000 N95 masks to Illinois this weekend. He also said the state is looking at ways to increase vote-by-mail and early voting for the general election in November.

And though Pritzker didn’t reveal plans for how Illinois could “reopen” once coronavirus slows here, he said he is speaking to scientists, economists and business industry leaders about how that can be done. So far, Illinois’ stay at home order is set to be in place through April 30, and Pritzker has previously said he is unlikely to lift it before then.

Pritzker noted his belief that less than 20 percent of the people in Illinois have been exposed to coronavirus and recovered from it, so the state is not at “herd immunity” levels.

“How do you operate society when we’ve begun to bring down the level of infection and make sure people are able to begin to go back to work in various industries?” Pritzker said. “The last thing we want is to begin to open things up and then have a big spike in infections and, unfortunately, all the spikes that come with that, including a spike in death. We want to make sure we’re not doing that while looking at how we can get people back to work.”


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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