DOWNTOWN — Monday’s number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois was the lowest in a week, but another 74 people have died, state officials said.
Gov. JB Pritzker has expressed optimism models showing a mid- to late April peak in cases would be realized, and on Sunday he said it appeared cases were plateauing.
On Monday, numbers showed a drop in new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, with 1,173 cases added. That brings the total number in the state to 22,025.
The new case count was the lowest in a week: Illinois had seen 1,672 new confirmed cases on Sunday and 1,293 cases the day before that.
There have now been 794 deaths in the state.
Pritzker said the trajectory of deaths and new cases show a leveling that’s crucial to hospitals not being overwhelmed. They want to avoid sending patients to the emergency COVID-19 hospital built inside the McCormick Place convention center, which is rapidly expanding capacity.
“There’s a bending of the curve. Things look better in terms of the angle of ascent than they have been before, even in the numbers today,” Pritzker said. “Although the deaths were more than they were yesterday, as you see, if you look back over the course of six days, there’s a kind of a leveling effect, right? … And more so even as you look at the numbers of new cases. It really looks like there’s a level there.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said cases have now been identified in 87 of Illinois’ 102 counties.
“The individuals and the communities impacted by this virus have touched nearly every part of our state,” she said. “We must stay the course and continue working together to practice physical distancing and stay at home as much as possible.”
Pritzker said it’s still too soon to tell when the stay at home order could be lifted. For now, it’s set to expire April 30, though Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she expects it to go longer.
“I can’t tell you now because there’s isn’t a date that I have in mind for it,” Pritzker said. “Things have to evolve. … I will tell you there’s a building consensus, anyway, in [experts] that things are … leveling more than they have before. And that’s a very good development.”
The lifting of the stay at home order and other measures could be done in phases, Pritzker suggested, and there’s not a “perfect consensus” for how the economy could be reopened once coronavirus weakens its growth here. Plans are still vague as they’re being formed, though Pritzker said he has talked with scientists, industry leaders and other experts about how to restart businesses without putting workers and residents in harm’s way.
The state won’t be able to go back to normal until there’s widespread testing, medical workers can treat people and officials have the ability to track the people a confirmed COVID-19 patient came into contact with, Pritzker said.
“I think it’s likely that there will be adjustments to the orders we’ve put in place [after April 30], but it is also true … it’s not like we’re anywhere near heard immunity, and there isn’t a treatment,” Pritzker said. “Nothing that happens next month or the month after is gonna be exactly the way it was four months ago or five months ago.
“The question really is not, ‘Could you do this or that?’ The question is, ‘How would you do it, practically speaking, so you don’t have many more people getting infected?'”
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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