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Illinois surpasses 5,000 COVID-19 deaths

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at their daily press conference on May 27, 2020 | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois has surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths as he said that the state is only doing about 30% of the contact tracing needed.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said there were 1,111 new coronavirus cases and 160 additional deaths on Wednesday. The state’s COVID-19 case total is now at 114,306 positive cases and 5,083 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 17,179 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 803,973.

Pritzker held his daily press conference at a COVID-19 testing site in East St. Louis on Wednesday and talked about the number of deaths passing 5,000 statewide.

“These are real people whose lives came to an end because of this pandemic. They are grandparents and uncles and aunts, parents, cousins, children, friends. They had whole lives that were cut short because COVID-19 knows no boundaries and only seeks to destroy,” he said.

Pritzker said that Illinois still needs more contact tracers. He said around 30% of contacts are being successfully traced and the goal is get it to above 60%.

“It’s going to take us weeks and weeks. I can’t tell you how long. I mean some people think it will take through August to do it. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do it much faster than that.”

Data shows that there were 3,826 COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals Monday evening. Of those 3,826 patients, 1,031 were in the ICU and 592 were on ventilators.

Pritzker said on Tuesday that Illinois has seemed to have “come off the peak” of COVID-19 as the state saw the first week-over-week drop in virus deaths.

“Looking at the numbers on a daily basis, looking at a weekly average basis, the answer is: We seem to have come off the peak,” Pritzker said.

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IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said she is hopeful this is the beginning of a downward trend but urged residents to continue doing everything they can to reduce transmission of the virus.

The positivity rate has dropped from a high of 23% in late April to 8.6% in the past seven days, Pritzker said. COVID-19 related hospitalizations, which had been holding steady a few weeks ago,  have now dropped to a six-week low.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said that 92% of residents who tested positive for COVID-19, and did not die, have recovered.

Illinois has received a third shipment of the drug Remdesivir, which has shown good results in decreasing hospitalization days of COVID-19 patients, Ezike said.

All four regions of Illinois are on track to move into Phase 3 of Restore Illinois on Friday. Pritzker released industry-specific guidelines on Sunday to allow businesses to reopen safely.

The guidelines cover manufacturing, retail, offices, service counters, youth sports, restaurants and bars, day camps, outdoor recreation, personal care services and fitness centers.

The guidelines can be viewed on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website here.

Moving into Phase 3 will allow hundreds of thousands of residents to go back to work. Pritzker said that all child care providers are being asked to reopen in Phase 3.

For the first four weeks, they can serve no more than 10 kids per classroom and after that the limit will increase.

Over 2,500 child care home and 700 centers have provided care during the stay-at-home order. Those child care facilities that have been open during the pandemic will be able to skip the four-week capacity limit and instead expand their capacity, Pritzker said.


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