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Illinois sees 74 new COVID-19 deaths as protesters rally to reopen the state

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks at his daily coronavirus briefing on May 2, 2020 | Photo: Colin Boyle/My Block, My Hood, My City.

State officials announced another 2,000 new coronavirus cases as protesters gathered throughout the state on Saturday to rally for reopening Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 2,088 new coronavirus cases and 74 additional deaths on Saturday. The state’s COVID-19 case total is now at 92,457 positive cases and 4,129 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 23,047 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 561,649.

Protesters gathered on Saturday at the Thompson Center in Chicago and the State Capitol Building in Springfield in a rally to reopen the state.

IDPH data shows that the number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators used by COVID-19 patients continues to see an overall decline in May statewide.

All four Restore Illinois health regions continue to meet the criteria needed to move into Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan on May 29.

Phase 3 of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan allows retail, offices, barbershops and other businesses to reopen with precautions. All regions must continue to maintain a positivity rate of less than 20% along with five other metrics in order to move on to the next phase.

The positivity rate, which is the portion of daily tests that come back positive, continues to decrease as well. It reached 15% statewide on Saturday based on a seven-day average.

“[It] can be an indication of how widespread COVID-19 infections are among our population. We all want the positivity rate to come down, which would indicate a declining number of people getting sick from the virus. The great news is that the positivity rate in Illinois is coming down,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Friday.

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Pritzker said that the White House called for all states to grow their testing to 2% of their populations. Illinois is testing more than double that at 4.7% of the population a month.

Pritzker emphasized that testing is very important and the state won’t stop increasing testing until the pandemic is over. There are now 251 state operated testing sites.

“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,” IDPH Director Ngozi 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.

Pritzker has warned businesses 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.


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