CHICAGO — Illinois saw its highest one-day jump in new confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 2,049 new cases announced Wednesday.
In addition, 97 more people died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
There have now been 1,565 people lost in the pandemic in Illinois and 35,108 people have tested positive. Many have since recovered.
The state revealed at least eight of the people who have died were health care workers. And there have been at least 2,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases among health care workers, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Wednesday’s surge in cases surpassed the previous high of 1,842 new confirmed cases on April 17. The number of daily tests performed has steadily increased, leading in part to the larger number of confirmed cases. More than 9,000 tests were performed in the past 24 hours, the most in one day yet.
More tests are being done in part because the state has relaxed its guidelines — it now says anyone with symptoms can get tested — and opened more testing facilities and increased how much testing is done at existent facilities.
Still, state officials have warned there are many unconfirmed cases in the state due to a lack of widespread testing.
Gov. JB Pritzker said two additional drive-thru testing sites are being added this week, bringing to five the number of state-run sites. The latest sites are at the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora, which is now open, and at the University of Illinois-Rockford, which opens Friday. The other three sites are in Harwood Heights, Markham and downstate Bloomington.
The sites are available to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they don’t have a doctor’s order. But people need to call ahead first.
Meanwhile, Pritzker again said he has not yet decided to extend the stay at home order — which is set to expire April 30 — but he indicated an extension is coming.
“We’re looking at an extension, but I can’t tell you how long that extension should run,” Pritzker said Wednesday.
Pritzker had once said, based on expert modeling, the state would hit its peak in mid-April and begin to see fewer new confirmed cases and deaths. But he said Tuesday the peak won’t come until at least mid-May as social distancing measures have helped slow the incline to flatten out the rise into a plateau. But that means the peak is pushed further into the future.
Pritzker has said the state needs 14 days of decline, ideally, before the stay at home order can be lifted.
“We are, indeed, doing better, and I want to make sure everybody understands,” he said. “And look at New York — they’ve seemingly flattened their curve, but it’s flattened at a reasonably high level. But flat is better than the direction they were going. And the same thing is true in Louisiana and the same thing is true in Chicago. So I absolutely agree that things are better.”
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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