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 officials announced over 1,700 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and 48 additional deaths — the lowest number of deaths in nearly two weeks.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said there were 1,734 new coronavirus cases and 48 additional deaths on Sunday. The state’s COVID-19 case total is now at 94,191 positive cases and 4,177 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 20,295 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 581,944.

IDPH data shows that the number of hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients was at 4,190, which is the lowest since April 12. Of those 4,190 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, 1,144 were in the ICU and 735 on ventilators.

On Saturday, protesters gathered at the Thompson Center in Chicago and the State Capitol Building in Springfield in a rally to reopen the state.

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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 Sunday 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.

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“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.