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16 dead, 1,535 test positive for coronavirus in Illinois as half of state’s hospital beds already filled

Illinois officials and Governor J.B. Pritzker speak at a press conference Tuesday afternoon | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

State officials announced on Tuesday that coronavirus cases in Illinois have increased to 1,535 and 16 deaths. Hospital beds are already over half filled.

The four new deaths announced Tuesday include a Chicago resident in his 50s, two Cook County residents both in their 60s, and a DuPage County resident in her 90s. The number of cases, which have occurred in ages younger than 1 to 99, has risen by 250 since Monday.

Governor J.B. Pritzker laid out measures to increase COVID-19 testing and hospital capacity during his Tuesday press conference.

“We’re using a two-pronged approach to make sure a worst-case scenario does not become our reality,” said Pritzker.

“First, we put in place protective measures to suppress the spread, like our stay at home order, limits on gatherings and social distancing guidelines. Second, we are working to increase our health care capacity statewide so that when we do arrive at our next phase — which should not be our worst-case scenario but will be a point where hospitalizations significantly increase — we have the capacity to meet that need,” Pritzker added.

Pritzker said that 51% of hospital beds and 57% of ICU beds are filled, and almost 30% percent of all available ventilators are being used across the state.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has deployed 49 tents to area hospitals to set up triage centers outside their facilities to evaluate potential COVID-19 patients. In total, 66 of the state’s over 200 hospitals are operating with this expanded capacity. IEMA is working with 26 additional hospitals across the state to open new triage centers.

Pritzker said at his Monday press conference that the state is teaming up with manufacturers to increase production of important things like N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, personal protection kits, and meals ready to eat.

Pritzker also said that they have only received a fraction of those products from the federal government despite several requests.

Illinois National Guard Brigadier General Richard Neely said that his members were assisting at testing sites, distributing shipments of medical products and doing hospital assessments around the state.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike urged people to continue practicing social distancing as COVID-19 is passed through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.

The majority of cases are in Cook County, followed by Lake and DuPage counties. Over 11,400 people have been tested in Illinois so far.

Pritzker’s ‘stay at home’ order, which was announced on Friday, remains in place throughout Illinois until April 7.


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