Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at a press conference Thursday afternoon in Chicago | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that Illinois is bending the coronavirus curve and there’s evidence the state is moving towards a flatter curve despite the death toll surpassing 500.

“Our rate of rise is looking less and less exponential. That indicated to us that we are in fact bending the curve. There’s even some evidence that we may be moving toward a flatter curve. But we need to keep watching the data on a daily basis,” Pritzker said at his daily press conference Thursday.

Pritzker said that case numbers and the death toll continue to grow. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 1,344 new cases and 66 new deaths since Wednesday.

The state’s COVID-19 total has reached 16,422 cases and 528 deaths. The number of people tested so far is at 80,857, data shows.

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Pritzker said that the state is receiving approximately $2.7 billion in reimbursement from the federal government for COVID-19 expenses.

“We are headed in the right direction because of all the tremendous efforts by all of you. All of these actions are making the difference, and we must continue to work together,” IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said.

The state wants to be able to test at least 10,000 people a day, Pritzker said on Wednesday, adding that the state currently can only test about 6,000-a-day.

Pritzker added that the state has obtained five RNA extractors to help speed up the test process, however, the results from the machines has not been reliable. The state will not be using them until the issues are resolved.

Ezike said on Wednesday that while the daily number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing, the rate of growth is slowing.

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“We’re not seeing the exponential growth we were seeing before. But even as there may be some glimmers of hope, I say that physical distancing has to, must continue to be the way we reduce the spread of this virus. Please stay home,” she said.

Ezike said that a second survey was sent out to patients who tested positive for coronavirus in Illinois. Among the respondents, 43% of the cases said they have recovered.

Pritzker also said that the CDC has determined that someone who has recovered from COVID-19 is very likely to be immune from getting it again unless it mutates.

Illinois’ stay-at-home order remains in effect through April 30.