CHICAGO — Illinois on Wednesday continued to report high numbers of coronavirus tests and confirmed cases but did see a decline in the number of people who died in the past day.
A total of 92 people died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 2,215. The day before, Illinois saw its largest one-day high of 144 deaths.
The state had 14,478 tests administered in the past day and saw 2,253 new confirmed cases. The new cases push the state’s total number of confirmed cases over the 50,000 mark, with 50,355 cases. But officials say far more cases are out there in asymptomatic people and untested sick people who are self-isolating or have already recovered.
The total number of deaths from COVID-19 is also presumed to be higher, with some deaths incorrectly attributed to other causes before the spread of the coronavirus became clear.
“As we continue to live in this COVID reality, we need to continue to work together and support each other,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “More and more of us are being personally affected by this virus.”
Although Illinois has been in a stay at home order for more than a month, Ezike noted there are still many chances for the virus to spread despite the many precautions. Essential workers and non-essential workers who “venture” out are examples of people at risk, she said.
“There are still many opportunities for the virus to be transmitted,” she said.
But with data showing the spread of the virus is slowing — like through the longer amount of time between the doubling of cases and the shrinking of the state’s “R-naught” value that tracks how many people a single infected person infects — Ezike said it’s clear prevention measures are working.
“We have curved that number significantly. Significantly,” she said. “We have gotten the desired effect. Have we gotten to the point where there’s no transmission of the virus? No. But we’ve done a fantastic job, and that’s why we need to stay the course.”
In another sign of hope, Gov. JB Pritzker said plans are being made to scale down the emergency hospital assembled at McCormick Place. The original plan was to staff for 3,000 beds in the convention center.
“We’ve stood down 1,000 of those beds and it looks like we’re gonna have the ability to stand down much more of that facility,” the governor said. “But, again, I don’t want to speak too soon because all of these identified alternate care facilities need to be in a state of some kind of readiness in the event that there’s a surge either because we reopened — and God forbid — we reopen too fast. Or because there’s a surge that people expect in the fall.”
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 or difficulty breathing
- Chills and shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste and/or smell
People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, 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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