Health officials announced the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day in Illinois — nearly 200 — as Gov. Pritzker warned businesses and counties who defy his stay-at-home order.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 1,677 new coronavirus cases and 192 additional deaths on Wednesday. The state’s COVID-19 case total is now at 84,698 positive cases and 3,792 deaths.
Laboratories have processed 17,668 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 489,359.
The positivity rate statewide is 17 percent, according to IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike, who said that the rate is based on a seven-day average from May 3-10.
There are 4,562 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday evening. Among those, 1,208 are in the ICU and 714 are on ventilators.
“Please know people of all ages are falling victim to this new virus. This is a real disease. This is a serious disease. It is not a hoax and people need to take it seriously,” Ezike said.
“Please continue to stay home. Please maintain physical separation or social distancing. Please wear your mask. Please help us decrease the spread of this virus,” Ezike added.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker talked about how the state is trying to address COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.
He said that IEMA and IDPH have coordinated to deliver personal protective equipment to more than 1,200 nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state.
IDPH prioritizes testing at those facilities and officials are testing all residents and staff at facilities that do not have a known COVID-19 outbreak.
Pritzker warned business and leaders who choose to defy the state’s stay-at-home order.
“To the small minority of businesses that choose to ignore the medical doctors and the data and to ignore your legal obligations to the residents of your communities: there will be consequences,” he said.
Business and individuals that are licensed by state agencies will be “held accountable for breaching public health orders,” Pritzker said.
“Counties that try to reopen in defiance may not be reimbursed by FEMA for damages they caused because they ignored the law. Local law enforcement and Illinois State Police can and will take action,” Pritzker said.
On Tuesday, Ezike addressed concerns that some people believe the number of COVID-19 deaths are inflated.
“In Illinois, we are reporting those deaths that have laboratory confirmation. As we learn more about the disease, there may have been less typical presentation of COVID-19 that were not appropriately attributed to COVID because there wasn’t a test done because the suspicion wasn’t there,” Ezike said.
“There is also some additional deaths that happened in someone who happened to be COVID positive but the COVID infection had nothing to do with the death,” she explained, adding that health officials are trying to remove obvious cases where a COVID diagnosis had nothing to do with the death — like a shooting or car accident victim.
Pritzker said that $25 million has been put forward to local governments in an effort to accelerate planned infrastructure projects around the state.
Pritzker said on Monday that updated models show Illinois may not hit its COVID-19 peak until mid-June.
“Since our last modeling update, the researchers have been able to plug approximately 2.5 more weeks of data into their models, and that’s significant. The essence of models is that they get smarter over time,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said on April 23 that the models showed a peak in late April or early May. That’s been extended again into sometime in mid-May through mid-June, he said.
“In many ways, this news is disheartening. A pushing-out of our expected peak is a natural consequence of flattening the curve. Pushing the peak down and therefore to a longer timeframe might not sound like good news to some, but I promise you: It is saving lives,” Pritzker said.
“Under current mitigations, hospital bed and ventilator capacity remains sufficient to treat COVID-19 patients. In other words, Illinois will reach the peak without overloading the state’s health care system as seen in other parts of the world,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
The state’s modeling efforts are led by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern School of Medicine, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public Health.
The north-central, central and southern regions of the Restore Illinois plan are on pace to moving forward into phase 3 after the 28-day period.
The Northeast region, which includes Chicago and the collar counties, is not meeting the requirement of the 20 percent positivity rate cap as of May 8, officials said.
Pritzker and his staff members are working from home after a senior staffer tested positive for COVID-19.
The senior staff member was asymptomatic and tested positive late last week. They were in close contact with Pritzker and other employees, the governor’s office said Monday morning.
Pritzker and all other staff reporting to the office tested negative. Pritzker was tested again early on Sunday and tested negative.