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Illinois Surpasses 1,000 Coronavirus Deaths As 125 More Perish In Largest Daily Toll Yet

Gov. JB Pritzker spoke at his daily coronavirus briefing.

Gov. JB 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 — The state of Illinois hit a grim milestone Thursday as the total number of deaths from the coronavirus outbreak passed 1,000.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced 125 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,072. It was the largest number of deaths in one day since the pandemic swept into Illinois.

“These are family members and loved ones, neighbors and friends,” the governor said. “Today we mourn with their communities and we offer them our solace and our strength.”

An additional 1,140 people were confirmed to have the virus in the past day, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 25,733. Many of those people have since recovered.

Officials estimate thousands of lives have been saved by the state’s stay at home order as well as the closures of bars and restaurants for anything other than carry-out service. Some 1,700 lives in Chicago alone have been spared, officials estimate.

The stay at home order is set to expire April 30, and other states have already extended their order. Pritzker said he continues to review whether to extend the Illinois order, but he hasn’t made a decision.

Illinois has partnered with six other states in the Midwest so they can collaborate as each looks for ways to ease their lockdowns and restart their economies.

The priority for all of them is protecting workers and customers, Pritzker said, and each says there needs to be more widespread testing and tracing and the ability to treat people who are ill before stay at home orders can be fully lifted.

“We’re continuing to [talk to experts] and we’ll be making announcements about decisions over the next several days, I’m sure, over the next week,” he said.

“I talk to a number of governors. … I certainly look at what they’re doing and I listen to them. They listen to me. … Each of us has taken ideas from one another. I think what we’re trying to do with the collaborative effort together is to make sure that we’re using similar criteria.”


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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