CHICAGO — As temperatures soared into the high 70s in Chicago, state officials urged residents to keep social distancing as thousands of new confirmed cases and 105 more deaths were reported.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, announced there have been 2,450 more confirmed cases in the past day, raising the state’s total to 58,505. The 105 deaths raised the number of people who have died from COVID-19 here to 2,559.
“We know that social distancing works and it has limited the spread of this virus,” Ezike said. “The weather is nice. People are getting antsy. You have cabin fever. And boredom affects both the children and the adults. We all can suffer anxiety and depression and kids may be starting to act out.”
Ezike offered up a host of ways to beat cabin fever, suggesting gardening, baking a new dish, playing board games, writing a book with kids about the pandemic and getting exercise outside.
“But physical activity should be prioritized,” she said. “I know some of us are gaining our COVID 5 or 10 or 15 [pounds]. Let’s try to make walking, which is our best defense as we try to curb our blood sugars, our blood pressure, as well as physical and emotional benefit. Let’s think about how we can stay physically actively safely” while social distancing and wearing masks.
“I know it’s been hard on everyone, and I’m encouraging everyone to continue to do their best to keep the people of Illinois safe. This remains an unprecedented time and the fight continues. … We’ve done a tremendous job in this state and I thank every one of you for your participation and your support as we go forward.”
Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker sounded off on Friday’s protest outside the Thompson Center, which saw several hundred mostly unmasked people demanding the lifting of the stay at home order. Pritzker lamented the hateful signs he saw in news coverage, some of which included swastikas.
One highly criticized sign also included the German phrase, “Arbeit macht frei, JB.” The phrase — which translates to “work sets you free” — hung over the gate at Auschwitz concentration camp, where more than 1 million people, many of them Jewish, were killed during the Holocaust.
“I’ll defend to the death their right to be wrong and to say it out loud,” said the governor, who is Jewish and helped lead the push to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie.
“But the fact is if they look at the facts and they understand the experts are trying to protect them and the elected officials who are standing on the right side of this are trying to protect them. I’m very hopeful that nobody got sick as the result of showing up at a protest and not wearing a mask and not adhering to social distancing norms.”
A group of nurses dressed in black scrubs staged a counter protest at the Thompson Center Friday.
Pritzker said the swastikas and Nazi phrases showed those protesters were either unaware of the meaning of the symbol or are aware and were demonstrating their hate.
But he noted there were only a few hundred protesters, while most people continue to follow the stay at home order and practice social distancing.
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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