CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced 128 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 20 more people at the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, which is under quarantine.
The long-term nursing home in DuPage County now has a total of 42 cases, including 30 residents and 12 staff.
“These numbers will get much worse in Illinois before they get better,” the governor said at a news conference in downstate Murphysboro.
Overall, the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 288 cases of novel coronavirus in 17 counties in Illinois. The victims so far are between the ages of 9 and 91.
“This virus knows no boundaries,” Pritzker said.
Asked if it was possible he might eventually order a statewide lockdown, similar to the one in place in Italy, Pritzker said the U.S. needs to learn from mistakes that were made in Europe, where cases quickly skyrocketed during the outbreak.
“It should be a cautionary tale to all of us that we need to make sure that we’re distancing ourselves, socially distancing ourselves, that people are isolating themselves when they feel that they might have even a cold; please stay home. If you have the flu, please stay home. If you don’t feel well, please stay home,” he said. “Yes, you may not have the coronavirus, but if you get somebody else sick, and then they get coronavirus, or if you get coronavirus while you are sick with the flu or a cold, your risk goes up significantly, and you’re putting other people at risk when you go out and potentially transmit whatever it is that you may have.”
Coronavirus in Illinois:
9 days ago: 9 cases
Today: 288 cases
— Audrina Bigos (@AudrinaBigos) March 18, 2020
Pritzker said, regardless if you know you have COVID-19 or not, if you feel sick, you should self-isolate, and call your doctor or healthcare provider for guidance.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said people with mild symptoms of COVID-19 – such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath – should stay home, and assume they have the virus, to save hospital beds for critically ill patients. She noted there is no specific medicine that anyone can get from a doctor or hospital to treat the virus.
“if you can stay home and weather it out, you are doing a tremendous part in creating a bed for someone who really needs it, and whose life can be saved,” Ezike said.
While there is no specific medical treatment for COVID-19, health care officials have said people who have coronavirus symptoms should stay at home and rest, take pain and fever medications, drink plenty of liquids, and call a medical professional for additional advice.
Ezike also urged all seniors to stay home whether or not they are sick, since they are among the most vulnerable to the virus. She said they should have friends and neighbors drop off food at their door if needed.
“Let your community work for you to keep you safe,” she said.
She also said kids shouldn’t undermine school closures by having playdates with friends during the outbreak.
“That just negates the benefits of the school closures,” she said.
While the governor has ordered the temporary closure of all schools, the cancellation of all gatherings of 50 or more people, and the shutdown of dine-in services at restaurants, Pritzker said essential services – such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations – will not be closing down.
Pritzker also thanked people across Illinois for coming together to help provide meals to those who need them during the coronavirus outbreak.
“When this is all over, we will still have each other, so lets hang onto that comfort, and allow the bonds that connect us to carry us forward,” Pritzker said.
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