CHICAGO — Another 2,563 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past day and 141 people died, state officials announced Thursday.
While the state hopes to soon reach a peak in cases and begin a decline, Thursday’s numbers showed the arc of the pandemic is still sloping up.
There have now been 2,355 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the state, although Gov. JB Pritzker acknowledged Wednesday that number could be higher because of deaths that have been incorrectly attributed to other causes.
There have been 52,918 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. That number is also presumed to be lower than reality due to the slow start of testing as well as untested people who are asymptomatic or self-isolating.
The new cases and deaths, announced at the governor’s daily coronavirus media briefing, come as the state prepares to enter a new phase of the stay at home order meant to slow the spread of the virus.
Starting Friday, Pritzker’s new order allows state parks and golf courses to reopen as long as visitors keep 6 feet apart from each other. It also requires people to wear face coverings when in public and unable to social distance. The order also clarifies garden centers can be open, and retail businesses can now partially reopen for deliveries and curbside pickups.
The governor urged people, including downstate residents and their leaders, not to ignore the order.
“I would point people to the fact that people are still getting infected,” he said. “More and more people are ending up in the hospital and more and more people are dying. We had 141 people die today, and not all of them were in Cook County or Chicago. Some of them were in downstate Illinois.”
The governor has faced opposition to his stay at home order — particularly the new one — from small but vocal groups. But Pritzker said he’s working with scientists and listening to other lawmakers and local officials to determine how to best reopen Illinois’ economy.
That reopening will likely be done gradually, in phases, and areas that aren’t facing as serious an outbreak could see less stringent restrictions than places that are, he said.
In the meantime, Pritzker urged people to continue to follow the stay at home order to prevent spreading coronavirus and to protect themselves and others. Even if a church tries to open for service or local officials say they won’t enforce the stay at home order, people can still follow it individually, Pritzker said.
“… What we’ve tried to do is to follow the science, and I would encourage those who are thinking of breaking the rules to follow the science, too,” Pritzker said. “What we know is that people put themselves at risk when they don’t wear masks, when they gather in large groups. We know that people who are going from place to place and who are asymptomatic … are putting other people at risk.”
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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