"I’m not urging people to despair. Let’s be strong and courageous," Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer

CHICAGO (CBS) — As the number of novel coronavirus cases in Illinois climbed to nearly 7,000 on Wednesday, the state saw the most COVID-19 deaths in one day, as 42 more people died of the virus.

“The coming weeks are going to get more and more difficult as the number of cases and deaths continue to rise, but I’m not urging people to despair. Let’s be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified, don’t be discouraged,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

Ezike reported 986 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 42 deaths. The state now has a total of 6,890 confirmed cases of the virus, and 141 deaths in 56 counties.

“Of course, we all understand that these deaths represent people’s mothers and fathers, and grandmothers and grandfathers, and children, and coworkers, and neighbors, and teachers. These are poele that are no longer with us, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families that they represent,” Ezike said.

Ezike reminded people to stay at home, noting that social distancing is one of the best strategies available to slow the spread of the virus.

“The courageous actions that we need to take are well within our grasp, and those actions are the ones we’ve been saying from the outset: wash your hands, stay at home, clean frequently touched surfaces. All of these things seem minimal, but these are the courageous actions that are going to save lives and eventually end this pandemic,” she said.

 

While President Donald Trump has said he expects the U.S. to be “well on our way to recovery” by June 1, Pritzker said it’s still unclear how long the state will have to keep its “stay at home” and school closing orders in place.

“If there was a definitive answer, I would hope that the CDC would put that forward to everyone. It’s unclear, to be frank with you, and so we’re listening to the best minds that we can to get the answer,” he said.

On Tuesday, the governor extended the state’s “stay at home” and school closing orders until April 30.

However, Pritzker expressed doubt about a possible 14-day self-quarantine order for people arriving in Illinois from other COVID-19 hot spots, such as New York City, New Orleans, or California.

“The truth is that this virus really knows no bounds, you can come from anywhere and have it, you can come from anywhere and not have it,” Pritzker said. “We would certainly encourage people who are moving about the country, if they’re coming home or they’re planning to stay here, that they should in fact stay at home, and they should try to self-quarantine.”

Asked how he would suggest people attend Easter services on Sunday, Pritzker encouraged churches to provide services online.

“I understand how important worship is, especially in these moments, but it can be done virtually, and I would suggest that … despite the desire on Easter to get together, to celebrate together, to worship together, I would still tell people please stay home,” he said.

As for the pandemic’s impact on the state budget, Pritzker said he’s spoken to legislative leaders and other state lawmakers to try and figure out what changes might need to be made to the state’s spending plan, to calculate the state’s revenue shortfall, and to estimate when revenues might return to normal.

“I don’t think I could list all the changes that would need to be made to the original budget,” he said. “It will be a vastly different budget, there’s no doubt about it.”