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Coronavirus In Chicago: Cases Beginning To Level, ‘A Good Development’ For Illinois

There are signs Illinois is progressing in its fight against coronavirus — but the stay at home order could stick around longer to ensure there's not another spike in cases.

Sasha Spektor, of Logan Square, sits with his computer and a tube of disinfecting wipes in Humboldt Park on April 7.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Though confirmed coronavirus and deaths still rise every day in Illinois, the growth of both has begun to plateau, officials said.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the state has seen a “leveling effect” among cases and deaths over the last six days, another sign the curve has begun to bend here. That’s a “very good development,” the governor said at a Monday press conference.

“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.”

Still, Illinois has now had 22,025 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 794 deaths. In Chicago, there have been 9,113 confirmed cases and 308 deaths.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said residents must continue to practice social distancing and stay at home so the slowing of the growth rate continues.

And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said despite the progress, she doesn’t think Illinois will be able to completely lift its stay at home order after the April 30 deadline.

Officials have said they’re concerned lifting the order too soon could lead to another spike in coronavirus cases and, thus, deaths.

Pritzker said Monday it’s still too soon to tell when the stay at home order could be lifted after April as things “have to evolve” still.

The lifting of the 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 herd 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?’”

Lightfoot has no scheduled press conferences and Pritzker will hold his daily briefing at 2:30 p.m.

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 22,025 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Monday afternoon. Some of those patients have recovered since testing positive.

• There have been 9,113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago.

• Illinois has seen 794 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

Stay At Home Order: The state’s stay at home order is set to expire April 30 — but Lightfoot said she thinks it will go longer.

Unemployment: People who have struggled to file for unemployment in Illinois will soon have relief, Pritzker said, but gig workers won’t see their money until at least mid-May.

• 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.

Lightfoot shut down demolitions throughout the city this week and said a report will be released with information about what was in the dust cloud.

Now, Lincoln Park residents want General Iron shut down.

Large Events: Some event producers are already canceling major summer festivals — including the Silver Room Block Party and West Fest — after Pritzker said he thinks all large summer events should be nixed.

The Waldos Forever 4/20 Fest has moved entirely online amid the pandemic.

Elections: A Chicagoan who worked the polls during the March primary has died of coronavirus. Voters from his precinct are being warned.

Homeless Shelters: The city has begun having nurses visit shelters for people who are homeless so they can educate and screen people there. Chicago doctors and the city also teamed up to bring thousands of coronavirus tests to shelters.

Detained Children: At least 19 children at a Chicago shelter for immigrant detainees have tested positive for coronavirus, ProPublica Illinois reports.

Cook County Jail: More than 180 correctional officers at Cook County Jail have tested positive for coronavirus, and their union says the remaining guards are overworked and being forced to cut corners. More than 300 detained people have also tested positive for coronavirus.

Restaurant Losses: The famed Billy Goat Tavern and other Chicago bars and restaurants are suing their insurer in federal court, arguing the state’s dine-in ban is resulting in a “physical loss” that should be covered by their policies.

• Call4Calm: People in need of mental or physical health care during the pandemic now have more free services from the state.

Symptoms

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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