Illinois daily death toll hits highest number to date

State leaders call for increased testing to be able to reopen the state

Governor JB Pritzker announced a collaborative effort with other Midwestern states to reopen the economy, and also announced expanded testing efforts to help combat the virus.

Editor’s Note: In an effort to keep the public informed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have removed the paywall from this article. All listed data is pulled directly from IDPH and St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency. There may be discrepancies between the reported statistics. 
So that we may continue to bring you community news as it happens, click here to subscribe.

By Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor

Illinois has had the highest daily death total so far due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with 125 lives lost in the past 24 hour period. In the face of the increasing number, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said increased testing for the virus and antibodies is how we will be able to reopen the state.

Today, IDPH announced 1,140 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including the 125 additional deaths. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 25,733 cases, including 1,072 deaths, in 90 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.

“While these numbers are disheartening, I don’t want people to despair. Instead, I want them to renew our collective resolve to do what is needed to end the pandemic. We continue to learn and amass new information about this virus every single day. Remember, we have only known about this virus in the last five months, and we’ve only known it in our state in the last four months. So we’re following the research and the studies that come out daily to update our knowledge base and inform our decisions. New research shows that people who contract the virus may be most contagious the day they begin to have symptoms, or even a day or two before. This is why widespread testing is so important. We need to know who may be infected as soon as we can before they come into contact with many other people, especially the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Ezike.

She said that the state is working to expand testing in healthcare systems, universities, and IDPH systems, and added that until there is a vaccine, testing is the best tool in the fight against the virus.

“As you’re starting to understand, there are several types of testing. There’s the virulogic test that detect the virus. If you don’t have the virus or are not shedding the virus, you won’t test positive, but a negative test doesn’t mean you can’t be infected or are immune….There is also the serolgic antibody test. These will be important to know who has antibodies and who doesn’t as we try to reopen the state,” she said.

The doctor encouraged people to continue in their efforts to stay home, saying “This is a marathon. We have to keep pace, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. You can see we have many new cases and unfortunately many lives that continue to be lost. But running together we will still beat covid19. We are on the right track. We are not over this, but we will get there. Please continue to be #AllInIllinois.”

Governor JB Pritzker spoke about his new Midwestern partnership with the governors of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Minnesota. He did say that they were in talks with colleagues in other neighboring states, and there could be more added to the collaborative effort to reopen the Midwestern economy. He said the reason that he chose to partner with those governors is that they also make their decisions based on facts and science. He added that not all states contacted wanted to participate, saying that Iowa opted out of the collaboration. Missouri was not mentioned.

The governor said that the state is still in a race for personal protective equipment (PPE) and his procurement team is following every lead that they possibly can.

He also echoed the doctor in his call for expanded testing and said that in addition to added machines and materials, the state is pushing to add testing locations, especially in minority communities that face healthcare challenges.

Along with the increased testing, there is now going to be “expanded criteria for testing to be allowed for anyone that has COVID symptoms, even if you do not have a doctor’s order.” He still urged people to call before heading to testing centers to report symptoms and ensure that they would not be turned away.

He said that statements about school closures or extensions of the stay at home order beyond May 1 would be announced “in the next several days.” He later said that President Trump had emailed suggestions for reopening states to U.S. governors, but that he had not had the chance to read the guidance, and would take it into consideration.

Gov. Pritzker said “The day we can begin our path back to normal will come sooner because of your actions right now. So I ask you to continue to tap into your courage, your sense of community, your generosity, and stay the course. We will get through this together.”

St. Clair County has 242 confirmed cases of the virus, and 83 results are still pending. There are a total of 17 deaths in the county. There are 55 COVID-19 patients in non-ICU beds, 19 patients in the ICU, and 11 patients are on ventilators.

By local zip codes, 62269 has 20 cases, 62208 has 18, 62221 has 24, and 62226 has 34.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern urged people to not be tempted by cabin fever or the nice weather to leave their homes for non-essential trips, and to continue to stay home and follow safety and hygiene protocols.

For more information about Illinois’s efforts against the virus, visit https://coronavirus.illinois.gov or dph.illinois.gov.