CHICAGO — As more Illinois residents ignore the stay at home order, coronavirus cases statewide continue to climb.
Another 2,994 people tested positive for COVID-19 between Saturday and Sunday, meaning the state has now seen 61,499 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Gov. JB Pritzker announced at a Sunday press conference.
Part of the significant rise in confirmed cases is because Illinois has increased testing so much lately, Pritzker said. In the last day, 19,417 tests were reported, the highest one-day total for the state yet.
The state’s goal is to do at least 10,000 tests per day, and it’s met that goal for more than a week now.
But the last 24 hours also saw 63 people die, bringing the state’s total to 2,618 deaths from coronavirus.
Pritzker urged people to continue following the stay at home order, noting experts think it helped lessen the severity of the pandemic here.
But that’s proven more challenging recently as the weather’s warmed up and some people have grown restless under the stay at home order. There have been protests and a church held services with more than 100 people Sunday. Others have hosted large parties or headed to beaches or parks to enjoy the weather despite the risk of spreading coronavirus in crowds.
Just a day earlier, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned Chicagoans who throw parties or other events during the stay at home order can be fined up to $5,000. The city shut down a number of parties and said it will shut down future ones, and police will tow partygoers’ cars and cite and arrest people.
“The fact is people need to follow the rules. People will get sick if they don’t follow the rules. We need local government and local police to make sure people are following these rules,” Pritzker said. “We need the public to comply with the stay at home rule because that is how we’ve been defeating coronavirus.
“We’re not looking to have police crack down on people, arrest people; that’s not the intent here. But it is true that police can break up a party and should.”
Pritzker said he does have hope things are getting better here: He said he hopes Illinois is currently in a “flattened curve … and that we begin to fall off that curve and our numbers begin to decline.”
The governor has previously said a decline in cases is one of the things needed for him to lift the stay at home order and other restrictions.
But Pritzker also said officials need to do more to get the message of “stay home, save lives” out to young people.
“The fact is we need to do more messaging around this. People need to understand how serious it is. And look, even if you think you’re invincible and you’re in your 20s, here’s what could happen: You could get coronavirus and not suffer very badly from it” but you could spread it to family or friends who are vulnerable, he said. “You’re putting them at risk when you are willing to ignore the rules we’ve put in place here.”
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.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.