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Illinois surpasses 75K COVID-19 cases, 3,300 deaths

Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike speaks at Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s daily press conference on May 2, 2020. | Photo: Colin Boyle/My Block, My Hood, My City.

State health officials reported 2,325 new COVID-19 cases and 111 additional deaths on Saturday as Illinois surpassed 75,000 cases.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said the state’s COVID-19 total is now at 76,085 positive cases and 3,349 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 16,617 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 416,331.

The IDPH reported Lake County deaths of a female in her 70s and two men in their 90s due to COVID-19 complications. In McHenry County, a male in his 70s, female in her 80s, and two men in their 80s died of COVID-19 complications, IDPH said.

On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that he would not be holding his daily coronavirus press briefings during the weekend anymore.

Pritzker announced on Friday that Illinois had exceeded a record 20,000 COVID-19 tests.

“As of May 6, Illinois ranks second among the 10 most populous states in the number of tests completed per capita over the last 7 days, and Illinois is 5th among all 50 states in total tests completed since the beginning of this pandemic,” Pritzker said.

He said the growth in testing is “tremendous” but the state still needs to be able to perform even more than 20,000 tests a day.

Illinois now has 244 public testing sites across the state, which is more than double than the amount it had on April 24.

The White House promised to ship 620,000 individual swabs and 465,000 vials of VTM by the end of May. The first part of that shipment has been delayed until Sunday, Pritzker said.

“The devastation this pandemic has wreaked upon our economy, the economy of the United States and that of the world is mind-boggling. The swiftness and immediacy of its economic impact has never been before. Businesses large and small have shuttered. Families have had their savings wiped out,” Pritzker said on Thursday.

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The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) processed more than 1 million initial unemployment claims in the first nine weeks of the pandemic starting March 1. Over $2 billion has been paid out in claims in the first four months of 2020.

In comparison, Pritzker said that in 2008 the state processed 180,000 unemployment claims during the first nine weeks of the Great Recession.

“The pain and devastation of people who lost their jobs is heartbreaking. The financial toll on the people of Illinois has been breathtaking and it’s unprecedented,” Pritzker said.

On Wednesday, Pritzker and IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said that data shows the Latino community in Illinois is facing a significantly higher rate of infection. Latino people represent more than 40% of new reported cases in the past week.

26,000 people who identified as Hispanic were tested for coronavirus and nearly 60% of them tested positive, which is more than three times the state average positivity rate, Pritzker said.

“Because of decades of disparities in health care access and delivery, we’ve seen the worst effects of this pandemic fall upon, disproportionately, upon the backs of the communities of color in our state,” Pritzker said.

“That’s especially true in our Black communities, our Native American communities and our Latinx communities,” he added.

The state is providing thousands of hotel rooms free of charge for those who test positive and need help to quarantine away from those in their household.

Pritzker reminded residents about the face covering requirement. “Face coverings are required in public situations where social distance cannot be maintained. That applies only to those who are medically able to wear a mask,” he said.

“Protecting your fellow Americans by wearing a face covering in public is a collective act of patriotism, and doctors will tell you it’s one of the best things we can do for public health right now,” he added.


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