Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks at his daily press conference on May 3, 2020 | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker reported that nearly 20,000 people were tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours — the most in a single day — as the number of new deaths dropped to 63.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 2,994 new coronavirus cases and 63 additional deaths on Sunday. Deaths on Thursday reached 140, and there were 102 deaths on both Friday and Saturday.

The state’s COVID-19 total is now 61,499 positive cases and 2,618 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 19,417 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 319,313.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital is 4,701 — 1,232 of them are in the ICU and 759 on ventilators, Pritzker said. That is a decrease from Friday evening.

Pritzker warned that his office has seen COVID-19 related scams through telephone, text message, internet and door-to-door solicitation.

“The attorney general will not hesitate to use the authority of his office and partnerships with state, local and federal law enforcement to hold accountable anyone seeking to profit off this pandemic,” Pritzker said.

On Saturday, IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike encouraged people to still be physically active while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

“We know that social distancing works and it has limited the spread of this virus. The weather is nice. People are getting antsy. You have cabin fever. And boredom affects both the children and the adults. We all can suffer anxiety and depression and kids may be starting to act out,” she said.

Pritzker said that even though the number of cases continues to grow, the infection rate has decreased from 21-22% to “something in the high teens.”

“The gross number of cases, positive cases, isn’t really an indication of much,” he said.

Pritzker also reminded residents to wear face coverings in public. “Face coverings are vital for people to wear. In fact, it may be the most important thing that you can do to save other people’s lives, to keep other people from getting infected and to protect people in your own home. If everybody does it, then you are protecting other people.”

“We continue to climb this curve, though at a much lower pace. The curve that has us increasing the number of hospitalizations and ICU beds filled in our state. It’s true even in areas of southern and central Illinois as it is in Chicago and Cook County and the collar counties,” he said.

Pritzker said on Friday that if a certain region of the state sees 14 straight days of a decrease in cases, hospitalization and ICU rates, then they could reopen before the end of the stay-at-home order on May 30.

Contact tracing, which is the process of tracking an infected patient’s close contacts when they were infectious, is crucial to reopening the state. The close contacts are then notified and can self-isolate from others.

“Illinois will be building on our existing infrastructure and expertise to shape a massive statewide contact tracing operation, gradually building over the coming weeks and then scaling up an army of contact tracers by the hundreds and then the thousands,” Pritzker said.

The state is looking to eventually have 30 contact tracing workers per 100,000 residents. Pritzker will announce more details on how people can get involved in the coming weeks.