Illinois Surpasses 12,000 COVID-19 Cases, 300 Deaths; Officials Warn Against Large Gatherings As Weather Warms Up; ‘Do Not Go Meet People, Do Not’

Chicago News USA

CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois has confirmed more than 1,000 additional cases of COVID-19 statewide, including 33 more deaths as of Monday.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state now has 12,262 total cases of the novel coronavirus in 73 counties, including 307 deaths. A total of 62,942 people in Illinois have been tested for the virus since the start of the outbreak.

“Thousands of family members, loved ones, friends, and neighbors are grieving. The loss of each and every single individual offers a unique, unbearable pain for all of the lives that they touched; and, cumulatively, they reflect the disproportionate burden that this virus places on some communities more than others,” he said.

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said, with temperatures expected to reach the 70s on Tuesday, people in Illinois need to remember not to gather in large groups outside.

“Please stay home. I assure you, if people congregate tomorrow, we will set the state back in our fight against COVID-19,” she said.

The governor said, while people can still go outside to exercise, it’s important that they continue to observe social distancing practices, and stay at least six feet away from others.

“Please do not head to the lakefront, please do not go congregating in a park. It’s fine if you have a back yard to go into your back yard; to walk outside of your home, of course, a beautiful day. But do not go meet people, do not,” he said.

With the Christian holy week of Easter already underway, and the Jewish holiday of Passover starting Wednesday, and the Islamic observance of Ramadan starting later this month, Pritzker also urged churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship to hold services online.

“I think that we’re all going to be experiencing the holidays in very unusual ways this year, but it’s very important, I cannot reiterate this enough, it is very important that you stay home,” he said. “It is very important that you not gather in a place of worship, or in somebody’s home, with other families, or even with your family if they don’t live with you. We’ve got to protect each other, and this will not last forever, but this is one Easter, one Passover that you’re going to have to do something unusual in the way that you worship, and I ask you please to do that for all of us.”

Meantime, state officials said 3,680 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Monday afternoon; including 1,166 patients in intensive care. The state has a total of 28,139 non-ICU beds and 2,709 ICU beds statewide; with 11,993 non-ICU beds open, and 949 ICU beds open.

The governor noted African Americans account for 72% of the COVID-19 deaths in Chicago, despite making up about 30% of the population.

“That’s a product of decades of systemic disinvestment in communities of color, compounded by disparities in healthcare delivery systems and access,” he said.

Ezike said shortages of personal protective equipment are posing “a tremendous challenge.”

“Healthcare facilities are having difficulty. Because of this shortage, healthcare facilities are beginning to implement optimization and contingency strategies to help stretch our supplies,” she said. “These strategies must be employed during PPE shortages. We must protect our healthcare personnel. When our workforce is sick, they cannot care for you, or your parents, or your grandparents. We’ve been saying this for weeks, and we’ll continue to say it, please stay at home.”

Pritzker said the state has received only a fraction of the PPE it has requested from the Strategic National Stockpile; including 367,700 N95 masks, 1.14 million surgical masks, 693,000 gloves, 174,000 face shields, 142,000 surgical gowns, and 4,000 coveralls.

“If we had relied on the white house and its obligation to fulfill our needs form the SNS, our state and nearly every state in the United States would come up short, and could not protect our healthcare workers and our first responders,” he said.

The governor said those supplies would last only a few days, noting Illinois hospitals and long-term care facilities alone are burning through 1.5 million N95 masks, 25 million gloves, 4.4 million gowns, and 700,000 surgical masks every 10 days. He said that does not include what will be used by the McCormick Place alternate care facility, or by first responders.

Pritzker said that’s why his administration is continuing to “scour the globe” for PPE on the open market. To date, the state has ordered approximately 10 million N95 masks, 14 million KN95 masks, 7 million surgical masks, 22 million disposable general use masks, 19 million gloves, 5 million face shields, 3 million gowns, and more.

“Take note that this is not as simple as placing an order and having it arrive at your doorstep a few days later. There’s a worldwide shortage that has us racing the clock, and battling against other states and the federal government,” Pritzker said.

The governor said he and his administration also are making daily calls to try and obtain more ventilators for Illinois hospitals. Pritzker has requested more than 4,000 ventilators from the  national stockpile, but the White House so far has sent Illinois only 450.

“Day in and day out we are on the phone with companies that have ventilators, companies that could provide ventilators to us,” Pritzker said.

State officials have talked to Ford, GM, and Illinois-based Vyaire about acquiring ventilators that they are producing for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve also collected up ventilator from places that you might not normally expect them to have one. There are dental offices sometimes, just in the event that somebody has a problem,” Pritzker said. “Surgicenters, where elective surgeries have taken place that are not open today, right? They all, many of them, most of them have ventilators. So we’ve really talked to as many people as we can to get the ventilators.”

The governor said Illinois hospitals currently can meet the needs for ventilators, but he said state officials are keeping an eye on the situation on a regular basis.

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