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Coronavirus Hospitalizations Drop Slightly In Illinois For First Time

More than 4,400 people remain hospitalized, however, and thousands of new cases continue to be confirmed, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks at a press conference on the updates about COVID-19 in Illinois on Friday, March 20, 2020 in Chicago.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Coronavirus hospitalizations in the state declined over the past week for the first time since the start of the pandemic, but more than 4,400 people remain hospitalized and thousands of new cases continue to be confirmed, Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday.

An additional 46 people died of COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 2,662, the governor said. It was lowest one-day death total since April 19.

An additional 2,341 new confirmed cases were reported, bringing the total in the state to 63,840, with a large number of those people already recovered.

Pritzker cautioned against reading too much into a single day’s numbers, including the reduced number of deaths in the past day. But he did allow “I’m hopeful that was the beginning or a continuation of a trend I’ve been praying for.”

“I want everybody to understand we’re not through with this,” Pritzker said. “This virus is still out there.”

The number of current hospitalizations in hospitals around the state had continued to rise each week since coronavirus swept into the state. But Pritzker reported a slight decline in hospitalizations in the past week.

Here are the hospitalizations by date:

April 5: 3,680

April 12, 4,091

April 19: 4,599

April 26: 4,672

May 3: 4,492

The governor said the state’s stay at home order and social distancing requirements led to the slowing of the rate of infection, giving hospitals a chance to keep pace with patients.

It’s also allowed the state to begin to wind down the massive emergency field hospital built at McCormick Place. The highest number of patients at McCormick Place at one time was about 30, Pritzker said.

The hospital, which was prepared to host 3,000 patients, will remain in place in a smaller form in case a new spike in infections happens, he said.

Pritzker again urged people to follow the state’s directives, even if they are feeling healthy.

“For a little while longer it’s important for people who are asymptomatic … that you stay away from people,” he said. “Just because you are asymptomatic does not mean that you do not have coronavirus. … As we await [treatments] … stay away from your elderly relatives in particular and don’t quarantine with people you haven’t already been around.”

Symptoms

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:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills and shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • 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.

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