CHICAGO — Illinois surpassed its goal of testing at least 10,000 people per day for coronavirus, with 16,124 tests carried out in the past 24 hours, Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday.
The tests returned an additional 2,724 new confirmed cases, the highest daily number yet. But those came in at a lower rate of positives than in past days, Pritzker said.
The past day’s rate of positive tests was 17 percent of all tests administered. The state average had been 21 percent, he said.
“Surpassing 10,000 tests is a very important milestone,” the governor said at his Friday coronavirus briefing. “It moves us in the direction of expanding our surveillance for outbreaks. More testing means we can potentially lower the infection rate, so we’re going to continue to push that number up.
“Our ability to test and get results quickly is key to our ability to map the presence of this virus and to gradually reduce our mitigation measures and get more people back to work.”
With the news of the boost in testing came word another 107 people died in the past day from COVID-19 infections. There have now been 1,795 people lost in Illinois to the pandemic.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the push for more tests included getting more out to longterm care facilities. In the past week, tests were taken at 37 longterm care facilities, some with active outbreaks and some without a single case, she said.
Officials hope to test staff and residents with high levels of community transmission to detect cases earlier and before an outbreak, she said.
“Testing is one of the very key elements to helping us stop spread and overcome this pandemic,” she said.
Pritzker said he expects the state to be able to maintain the testing level, despite the ongoing challenges of finding test supplies.
“The challenges in the supply chain in order to get us to 10,000 were immense,” he said. “Everybody needs to, wants to expand [testing]. Everybody’s having trouble. Having said that, my expectation is that we will be able to sustain 10,000. It will, like many other things, depend upon how many people go to a testing site on any given day … and then on the supplies.
“My expectation is we will be able to maintain this level; my hope and expectation. Of course, this isn’t enough. The idea here is we gotta keep going. And we will.”
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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