CHICAGO — An additional 136 people died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours in Illinois, raising the state’s death toll to 2,974, officials announced Wednesday.
An additional 2,270 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past day. In total, 68,232 people in Illinois have had confirmed cases, although many have recovered. There are currently 4,832 people in hospitals statewide.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, again urged people to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“There are things we can do to stop the spread of this virus,” she said. “We must continue to stay home. We must cover our face if we do have to go outside. We must frequently wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap.”
Gov. JB Pritzker also urged people to wear face coverings when outside and unable to social distance, as is required by his latest stay at home order.
“Protecting your fellow Americans by wearing a face covering in public is a collective act of patriotism, and doctors will tell you it’s one of the best things we can do for public health right now,” the governor said.
The two also noted new data shows Illinois’ Latino community is facing a surge in coronavirus cases. Latino people represent more than 40 percent of the new reported cases in Illinois over the last week, said Dr. Marina Del Rios during the press conference.
And of the 26,000 people in Illinois who identified as Hispanic when being tested for COVID-19, nearly 60 percent have tested positive — which is three times the state average, Pritzker said.
“Because of decades of disparities in health care access and delivery, we’ve seen the worst effects of this pandemic fall upon, disproportionately, upon the backs of the communities of color in our state,” Pritzker said. “That’s especially true in our Black communities, our Native American communities and our Latinx communities.”
Pritzker said his administration has increased testing in communities of color, and particularly with health centers that offer language services for Spanish-speaking people. The state is also trying to partner with “trusted partners in Latino communities” for outreach and is offering free hotel rooms to people who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
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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