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As Illinois Prepares For Friday Reopening, Another 104 People Die From Coronavirus

There have now been 5,186 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Illinois.

Masks donated by the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation are loaded into Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Garfield Park on Saturday, May 9, 2020 in Chicago. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — An additional 104 people died and more than 1,500 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past day in Illinois, officials said Thursday.

Still, Gov. JB Pritzker announced all areas of the state have met the goals to allow a partial reopening of the state Friday. Earlier, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the so-called Phase 3 reopening will come to Chicago on Wednesday.

There have now been 5,185 deaths in Illinois associated with COVID-19, the infection caused by the highly contagious virus. More than 2,000 of those deaths were in the city of Chicago.

Some 44 percent of Illinois’ deaths have been in longterm care facilities, said Dr. Ngozi Ekike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Hoping to quell the outbreaks in nursing homes, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a rule requiring those facilities to do more testing of staff and residents.

A total of 115,833 people have now tested positive for coronavirus. The state is now doing about 23,000 tests per day on average, Pritzker said, though he wants to increase that and do “many more.”

Amid the ongoing battle to slow the spread, Illinois has seen progress, including a reduction in the rate of tests coming back positive for the virus.

That “positivity rate” is one of several metrics used by the state to allow regions to progress from Phase 2 to Phase 3, the latter of which allows more businesses to open.

The other metrics include no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days and available surge capacity of at least 14 percent of intensive care unit beds, medical and surgical beds and ventilators.

The positivity rate for the Northeast Region — where Chicago is — is now at 14.2 percent, the highest in the state but now below the 20 percent level set to by state officials to enter Phase 3.

Despite the progress, Pritzker said the state could backtrack to Phase 2 if there is a significant uptick in cases after Friday.

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 and Prevention. Even people who show no symptoms may have the virus and can 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 are:

  • 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, seek immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can 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, such as 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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