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All regions of Illinois will move to Phase 3 on Friday, Pritzker says; 104 new COVID-19 deaths reported

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at their daily press conference on May 28, 2020 | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker confirmed that all regions of Illinois will move into Phase 3 of his reopening plan on Friday as health officials reported 104 new virus deaths.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said there were 1,527 new coronavirus cases and 104 additional deaths on Thursday. The state’s COVID-19 case total is now at 115,833 positive cases and 5,186 deaths.

Laboratories have processed 25,993 tests in the past 24 hours, officials said. The total number of people tested so far in the state is at 829,966.

Pritzker said that things like manufacturing, retail, churches, offices, youth sports, restaurants and bars, personal care services and fitness centers, will be able to reopen in a modified way in Phase 3 tomorrow.

Guidelines for businesses that are reopening can be viewed on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website, Pritzker said.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said that all long-term care facilities in Illinois will be required to test all of their residents and staff.

The facilities must come up with a testing plan and provide proof they’ve established a relationship with a testing lab, Pritzker said. The facilities will report test results to IDPH.

Pritzker held his Wednesday daily press conference at a COVID-19 testing site in East St. Louis 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,” he said.

Data shows that there were 3,649 COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals Wednesday evening. Of those 3,649 patients, 1,009 were in the ICU and 576 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.

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 8.3% 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.


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