CHICAGO — It’s too early to tell yet if Illinois hit its “peak” in coronavirus cases this weekend, Gov. JB Pritzker said.
Multiple models projected Illinois would hit its peak in cases this weekend and could soon start to see a downturn in coronavirus cases. But Pritzker, speaking at a Sunday press conference, said officials can’t determine if that did happen yet.
“You don’t really know until you start going down whether you’ve peaked,” Pritzker said.
So far, Illinois has seen 20,852 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 720 deaths. Chicago alone has had 8,584 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
And though cases and deaths continue to grow — and will for some time, officials have warned — the rate of that growth has slowed. Pritzker pointed out Sunday the death toll was the lowest it had been in six days.
“Hospitalizations, ICU beds, ventilators and deaths … you’ll see it kind of leveling over the last six days,” Pritzker said. “I’m optimistic, I guess, or I’m at least cautiously optimistic that we’ll see numbers like this going forward.”
The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus has also remained consistent, Pritzker said, though the state has ramped up testing.
But the crisis is not over, officials have said. Pritzker acknowledged this weekend he’s concerned lifting the stay at home order soon could lead to another spike in cases — and, thus, deaths — this summer, and he still urged people to stay home as much as possible. The governor has also said he doesn’t think large summer events should be held.
“I pray as we move forward that these trends continue, and if they do it will because of all of you adhering to our stay at home order,” Pritzker said. “Doctors and experts confirm the fact that Illinois having been the second state to announce a stay at home order now seems to be reaching a peaking term, and our hopes have been coming to fruition.
“But they also say that we need to stay the course and to make sure that we’re keeping the progress going that we’ve already made.”
But Pritzker did say he’s talking with economists, scientists and other experts about how to eventually “reopen” Illinois. For now, Illinois’ stay at home order is set to expire April 30, though Pritzker could extend it again.
“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.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a press conference on how the city is helping people who are homeless amid the pandemic at 1 p.m. Pritzker will have his daily briefing at 2:30 p.m.
• There have been 20,852 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Sunday afternoon. Some of those patients have recovered since testing positive.
• There have been 8,584 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago.
• Illinois has seen 720 deaths as a result of the virus so far.
If You Need Help
• Sick? Broke? Want To Help? Here’s A Massive List Of Coronavirus Resources In Chicago
What’s Happening In Chicago
• Demolition: A dust cloud enveloped Little Village on Sunday after a planned explosion. Neighbors are wondering why the city let it happen amid a respiratory pandemic.
• Call4Calm: People in need of mental or physical health care during the pandemic now have more free services from the state.
• West, South Side Testing: Four health care clinics on the West and South sides are getting rapid testing for coronavirus.
• Coronavirus Deaths: The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office has opened a 2,000-body, offsite warehouse to handle the growing wave of deaths.
• Large Events: Pritzker said he thinks all large events should be canceled this summer, but Lightfoot said it’s too soon to make those decisions.
• City Funds: $1.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief is likely coming to Chicago.
• Liquor Curfew: All stores must now stop selling liquor at 9 p.m. as officials try to reduce crowds outside liquor stores.
• Undocumented Chicagoans: With no safety net, undocumented Chicagoans are struggling to survive the pandemic, saying, “We’ve been left behind.”
Lightfoot signed an order to ensure all undocumented Chicagoans will be eligible for the city’s coronavirus relief programs.
• Cinespace: The movie studio has become a food pantry warehouse to help families impacted by coronavirus.
• Non-Essential Businesses: Some businesses have remained open, breaking the state’s stay at home order and facing collective fines that have added up to $120,000.
• Nice Weather: Officials have asked people not to congregate at city parks amid the warming weather. The city is cracking down on those crowds — but here are 10 parks where you can avoid the masses.
• Racial Disparities: More than 70 percent of the people who have died from coronavirus in Chicago are Black. Officials said the pandemic is exacerbating health disparities.
• Incarcerated People: Pritzker said the state would care for incarcerated people just like it would any others during the outbreak — but hundreds of detained people have tested positive for coronavirus, and two men have died at Stateville and another two at Cook County Jail. One sick inmate’s wife said she’s terrified.
• Health Care Workers: Doctors, nurses and other health care workers who recently retired or left the profession are being urged to rejoin so they can help in the fight against coronavirus.
Information about “re-enlisting” is available online.
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.
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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