CHICAGO — Another 27 Illinoisans have been killed by coronavirus, and Illinois broke a record for most new cases in a day for the fifth time in less than a week, the state reported Friday.
With the outbreak worsening every day, Gov. JB Pritzker has warned a new stay at home order could be put in place soon. A similar order was used in the spring — at the start of the pandemic — to slow the virus’s spread and flatten the curve here.
State and city leaders have said they’re deeply concerned this second surge of COVID-19 will be far worse than the spring, particularly because there could be a shortage of health care workers since every part of the United States is in the midst of a “COVID storm.”
“We’re running out of time, and we’re running out of options. Our growth in new cases is now exponential. We are seeing current numbers and future projections worse than what we saw in the spring,” Pritzker said at a Thursday news conference.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is already at an all-time high for Illinois — and that number is only going to increase, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The state is coordinating between hospitals so patients can be moved around and to build up capacity, Ezike and Pritzker said. They talk to health care administrators daily.
But hospitalizations are bound to rise as new cases surge, Ezike said, and that means people need to take action now to prevent hospitals being overrun in the next few weeks.
Ezike, Pritzker and city officials have urged people to start taking responsibility and making individual choices to slow the virus’s spread. That means every person should be choosing to follow safety guidelines, like wearing a mask and not gathering with people outside their household.
When asked what the state was doing about hospitals being overwhelmed, Ezike was blunt: Public health officials have been asking people to stop gathering and wear masks for weeks. While they continue to work with hospitals statewide, she said the personal responsibility piece is missing when people won’t follow the rules.
“If we keep doing everything we’re doing and not changing, no measure that we can do at the state level is going to allow us to have enough beds,” she said. “Everyone is saying, ‘What are we gonna do?’ What are YOU gonna do?”
In hopes of slowing down the surge of cases, Chicago has issued a 30-day stay at home advisory, but not order, that starts 6 a.m. Monday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking everyone to stay at home as much as they can, leaving only for necessities like buying groceries; to work from home if possible; to cancel all Thanksgiving plans; and to avoid gatherings of any kind — which also means not inviting people into your home.
Similarly, the state has asked everyone to stay at home and stop gathering for the next three weeks.
Among the most recent victims were four people from Cook County.
At least 10,504 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 387 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
The state also reported 15,415 confirmed cases in the past day, a new record. That’s the fifth time since Saturday and 14th time in the past 29 days Illinois has broken a record for new cases in a single day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 551,957.
The surge in new cases in Chicago — and across Illinois — can only partially be explained by increased testing; in reality, there are more cases because coronavirus is spreading so much, officials have said. There’s evidence of that in the way positivity rates and COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have rapidly risen in recent weeks.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose to 13.2 percent with 106,540 tests reported. It was at 12.6 percent Thursday. The figure represents total confirmed cases divided by total tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity, which measures how many tests were positive out of total tests, hit 14.5 percent. It was at 13.9 percent Thursday.
As of Thursday night, 5,362 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 990 people in the ICU and 488 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, two deaths and 2,986 confirmed cases were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 3,178 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 129,585 confirmed cases, according to state data.
Up to 145,000 Chicagoans currently have active COVID-19 right now, the city’s top health official, Dr. Allison Arwady, said earlier this week.
An average of 2,008 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 40 percent increase from the prior week. The city’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 14.5 percent, up from 11.1 percent the week before — and also up from the 14.1 percent it was Thursday.
The city is also seeing an average of eight deaths per day; for months, that number hadn’t risen above two or three per day, but it’s been going up the past several weeks.
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