CHICAGO (CBS) — With a total of 7,695 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Illinois, including 157 deaths, officials have reached a deal to use the former Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park as an alternate treatment site for COVID-19 patients.
The Army Corps of Engineers has already started work on turning McCormick Place into a field hospital, with the first 500 beds arriving this week. Pritzker said construction should be completed by Friday on installing those first 500 beds. The convention center eventually will be equipped with 3,000 beds to serve as overflow and avoid overwhelming the hospital system.
“You should all feel very, very proud, honestly, of the work that’s been done so quickly by patriotic Americans. These are carpenters who are showing up, and they’re building out this amazing facility in five days,” Pritzker said. “You could see it on their faces how proud they are to be doing it. They know they’re doing something that’s going to save people’s lives.”
The governor said he got a sneak peek at the McCormick Place field hospital on Wednesday, and was amazed at how quickly work was being done.
Two other hospitals — the former Advocate Sherman Hospital campus in Elgin and at the former MetroSouth Medical Center building in Blue Island — will provide another 500 overflow beds.
Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday said a deal has been reached to turn a fourth shuttered hospital — Westlake Hospital — into another alternate treatment site, with approximately 230 beds.
The governor said construction at all four sites will be completed “on a rolling basis” through the end of April.
The governor also announced a new initiative dubbed “All-In Illinois,” Asking people to pledge to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic by staying home.
“All-in is our anthem, and our point of pride. Illinoisans staying home for the good of each other, and our state. Today I’m asking all of us, all of you, to join in and be all-in for Illinois,” Pritzker said.
The campaign includes a series of public service announcements featuring celebrities like actress and Chicago native Jane Lynch, Chicago PD star Jason Beghe, Chicago native and Black-ish star Deon Cole, Olympic medalist and Illinois native Jackie Joyner Kersee, and Veep actor and Chicago native Matt Walsh.
People can show their solidarity with the campaign by updating their profile picture on Facebook with the All-in Illinois frame, and using the hashtag AllinIllinois in social media posts.
“We also must slow the spread of the virus. If we don’t, there could never be enough hospital capacity to treat all of those who would become ill,” the governor said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 715 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 16 new deaths. Illinois has now had a total of 7,695 total cases, including 157 deaths, in 61 counties.
IL. COVID-19 Cases
715 new cases today.
— Brad Edwards (@tvbrad) April 2, 2020
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said approximately 85% of the coronavirus deaths have been among those 60 or older, but she said, “that doesn’t mean that it’s a death sentence.”
A couple in their 70s, who were the third and fourth cases in Illinois, are “both doing great, and they were happy for us to share that information,” according to Ezike.
“But no age is immune to contracting the virus, and we have individuals younger than 1, and over 100 years contracting the virus. We’re also starting to see clusters of cases in essential businesses, and although these businesses need to continue operating, they must take steps to protect both the employees and the customers,” Ezike said.
Although the state has been unable to provide comprehensive numbers for how many people have recovered from the virus, Ezike said a recent survey found 50% of people with COVID-19 in Illinois reported recovering within 7 days of a positive test.
Ezike also expressed concern about reports of some churches and other houses of worship continuing to hold in-person services during the “stay at home” order, and urged them to hold services virtually until the crisis passes.
“I understand the importance of communing with fellow believers, but let’s understand: kids are home from school, people are home from work, schools and offices are closed, religious houses have to do the same. We all must make this sacrifice. Then, on the other side of this pandemic, we can gather at the mosque, or the synagogue, the church, the museum, the library, all of these places that we love. We must not continue putting people at risk,” she said.