CHICAGO — The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois jumped by 1,842 in the past day, the largest one-day rise since coronavirus began to sweep across the state.
“We have not peaked,” Gov. JB Pritzker acknowledged, noting the rate of increase continues to slow but the new cases and deaths will continue.
The spike comes as the state ramps up testing, with more than 7,500 tests completed in the past 24 hours.
The death toll, meanwhile, rose by 62 to 1,134.
There were 125 deaths the day before, marking the deadliest day of the pandemic in Illinois.
Pritzker also revealed the emergency COVID-19 hospital set up inside the McCormick Place convention center has taken in its first five patients.
The patients had been hospitalized elsewhere and were transferred to McCormick Place to continue to recover. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said while some hospitals have remaining capacity, the fact that people were transferred to McCormick Place means some have reached capacity.
The transferred patients “were deemed appropriate to leave the hospital but not quite ready to go home,” Ezike said.
The update came after Gov. JB Pritzker announced students will not be going back to classrooms this school year. His previous order to close schools was extended for the rest of the academic year.
Ezike said the move is essential to continue the state’s effort to quell the spread of the virus.
“Science does show that social distancing works, and I hope people remember this and take it to heart,” she said. “We won’t abandon all the good” we’ve done.
The governor has set a goal of testing at least 10,000 people each day, a number he said will give the state a better picture of the spread and how to target resources to slow it.
Friday marked a big step towards that goal, with 7,574 new tests performed. That’s an increase of nearly 2,000 compared to the day before.
Pritzker noted the increased testing is partially behind the rising number of new confirmed cases.
“It’s never encouraging to see a number go up, not down,” he said. “Cases, remember, are dependent upon how many people got tested that day. …. There are lots of people out there, unfortunately, who don’t get tested who are COVID-positive.”
Testing sites are being increased. Ezike encouraged people to look at the list of sites at the Department of Public Health’s website.
“Please, for people who are experiencing illness and want to get testing, I do want to alert we do have increased testing capacity,” she said.
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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