Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at a press conference in Chicago on April 22, 2020. | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

State officials announced over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases and 98 new deaths as over 9,000 tests were conducted within the past 24 hours, which is the largest amount so far.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced the state’s COVID-19 total has reached 35,108 cases, which is 2,049 more than Tuesday, and 1,565 deaths. The number of people tested so far is at 164,346, data shows.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said on Wednesday that there have been at least 2,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases among health care workers and at least eight of them have died in the state.

9,349 tests were performed in the past day, which is the most performed in a 24-hour span as testing becomes more readily available.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora and the University of Illinois-Rockford will be hosting state-run testing sites. The other three state-run sites are in Harwood Heights, Markham and Bloomington.

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Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested without a doctor’s order at those sites.

Pritzker said during his daily press conference on Wednesday that he is looking at an extension but wasn’t sure how long it would be.

On Tuesday, Pritzker said that he ruled out opening up businesses on May 1, strongly hinting that the Illinois stay-at-home order will be extended as he said the state is “weeks away from its peak.”

The comment came during his daily press conference after he was asked if he would follow states like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee in reopening most businesses.

“I have ruled out what they’re doing in Georgia, and I’m not sure about the other states, but if they’re all doing the same thing, which is essentially opening everything up, yes I have ruled that out for the time being,” Pritzker said.

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“In order for us to truly open things back up, we need tracing, testing, a treatment available, and widespread availability of PPE,” he added.

“Remember, Illinois is not even close to its peak. We’re weeks away now. You won’t even know you hit the peak until you’re on the other side of it,” Pritzker said.

He said during an interview Tuesday morning on Washington Post Live that COVID-19 cases in Illinois likely won’t peak until mid-May.

Illinois was the second state to implement the stay-at-home rule and Pritzker said people have been abiding by it for the most part. He said that has caused the peak to be pushed out from the middle to end of April until mid-May.

“So it’s been pushed out now, according to the models, to maybe mid-May, but at a lower level, and so we’re moving, inching toward that date,” Pritzker said.

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He noted that people are staying indoors, wearing masks outside and washing their hands.

“We’ve had many fewer deaths than we anticipated, our hospitalization rate is somewhat stable, climbing a little bit but somewhat stabilizing, and of course our ventilator needs have gone down,” Pritzker said.

He attributes that to the state bending the curve and doctors using alternative therapies to try and keep patients off ventilators.