EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — The death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois passed 5,000 people Wednesday, as the state looks forward to the next phase of reopening in a matter of days.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 1,111 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed along with 160 related deaths over the past day, bringing the statewide totals to 114,306 cases and 5,083 deaths.
To date, over 800,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the state, and the weekly statewide positivity rate declined slightly to 8.6 percent.
There are currently 3,826 patients with diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the hospital, including 1,031 in ICU and 592 on a ventilator.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker noted Wednesday the vast majority of those with COVID-19 don’t require hospitalization and recover at home, as new statewide figures estimate 92 percent of those who have been diagnosed have recovered.
Additionally, all regions outlined in the “Restore Illinois” plan remain on track for the next phase of reopening on May 29, according to the latest state data.
While the northeast region which includes Chicago qualifies for “Phase 3” of reopening, the city likely won’t move on to the next phase until sometime in early June.
As Illinois looks towards reopening even further in “Phase 4,” Pritzker said the state is working to get a sufficient number of contact tracers hired across the state. As part of those jobs, workers get paid a starting wage of $20 an hour to contact individuals who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
“What we’re doing is working with local departments of public health to make sure that they get contact tracing dollars so that they can hire up contact tracers,” Prtizker said.
Even as the state begins to reopen, Pritzker said nursing homes and assisted-living facilities may be among the last to open their doors to visitors again. They are currently closed to visitors, and staff need to undergo health screenings upon entering.
“COVID-19 doesn’t live in a facility, it comes in with somebody and then it spreads,” Pritzker said. “I must admit to you the CDC is telling every state that this may be one of the last things in dealing with COVID that will happen is new visitors being able to come back into those facilities.”