CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois health officials announced 42 more coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 141.

There were also 986 new cases, bringing the confirmed case total to 6,980.

Meanwhile, we also learned the virus knows no age limit – as many of the people whose deaths were announced Wednesday were under 40.

One of the people who died was a man in his 20s, two were men in their 30s, and two more were men in their 40s. All of those victims were in Cook County.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, nearly 40% of patients hospitalized are under 55. We are seeing that trend in Illinois as a state and Chicago as a city.

About half of the people who need to be treated in hospitals here in Chicago are under 60, and more than 70 percent of confirmed cases in Chicago are 59 and younger.

We took questions to Rush University Medical Center, one of the epicenters in the fight against the coronavirus.
“It’s affecting everybody,” said Jennifer Orozco, MMS, PA-C, Director of Advanced Practice Providers at Rush University Medical Center.

Orozco is on the front line.

“I’m the director of advanced practice, responsible for about 400 PAs and nurse practitioners across the system,” she said.

She is directing them to help people of all ages.

“That statistics are showing it now. This isn’t just something that affects older populations,” Orozco said. “Now we are starting to see it in younger groups.”

Why? She told us because this virus is new, there’s no clear answer right now.

“We don’t know, and I think that’s why it’s so important that we follow the CDC guidelines as best as we can and maintain our social distancing, because we don’t have a good understanding of who it is going to affect and why some of the groups are being affected that have no problems or pre-existing conditions whatsoever,” Orozco said.

She said the elderly are still considered highest risk, because of the outcomes of their cases.

But part of the concern with younger groups is that they may not have been staying at home and sheltering in place early on.

Now, Orozco said, this shows how important that really is – for everyone, from infants to the elderly.

“I can tell you, from someone on the front lines – nurses, PAs, NPs, physicians here at Rush, we are thankful when you stay at home,” she said. “It really is making a difference to protect not only you, but everybody here trying to take care of everybody.”

Orozco said they’re working around the clock here at Rush – stepping up and working seven days a week to fight the virus.

She said the team appreciates the support, and people asking how they can help. Right now, she said, the best thing you can do is stay home.

Tara Molina