CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois had its largest single-day death toll from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, with 192 deaths since Tuesday.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said there were 1,677 new confirmed cases of the virus in the past day, bringing the state’s total to 84,698. As of Wednesday, the state’s death toll stands at 3,792.
The new high single-day death toll in Illinois comes one day after Illinois also saw a record 4,014 new cases overall in a single day. Ezike said the rise in confirmed cases is due in large part to increased testing.
“Rather than focusing on the large numbers of cases yesterday, one should take into account the very large number of specimens that were resulted,” she said.
On Tuesday, the state announced it had completed more than 29,000 virus tests.
Ezike said the state’s coronavirus testing capacity is increasing statewide, with more than 250 testing sites throughout the state; including seven community sites where anyone can be tested for free.
So far, the state has performed 489,359 virus tests, including 17,668 in the past day. The state’s most recent positivity rate, measured from May 3 to May 10, is approximately 17%.
As of Tuesday night, 4,563 virus patients were being treated at hospitals; including 1,280 in intensive care, and 714 on ventilators.
“Of course, we know that the numbers of the people in the hospital, the numbers of the people that have passed on, they’re not just numbers and statistics. These are real people, and they’re our families and loved ones who are suffering with each of them, whether in their illness or in their unfortunate passing,” Ezike said. “We together as a state mourn for all of the lives that are lost, and we pray for everyone’s quick recovery.”
Gov. JB Pritzker also discussed testing at the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, saying the state has provided 30,000 tests to 129 such facilities so far. However, he noted there still aren’t enough tests available overall, and he said the state is working with Quest Diagnostics to ramp up nursing home testing statewide.
The governor said IDPH the Illinois Emergency Management Agency have coordinated an effort to deliver personal protective equipment to 1,200 nursing homes across the state; including Include N95 and KN95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, face shields, hand sanitizer, and shoe covers.
The state also is offering free door-to-door mask decontamination service for nursing homes. Pritzker said FedEx is arranging to pick up masks to deliver to the state’s mask decontamination facilities, and dropping off clean masks.
Meantime, all residents and employees at all four of the state’s veterans’ homes have been tested for virus. As of Wednesday morning:
- 1 of 153 residents and no staff at LaSalle Veterans’ Home tested positive for the virus earlier in May, and there have been no additional positive tests since then;
- 5 of 51 residents, and none of the 78 staff at Anna Veterans’ Home have tested positive;
- 30 of 220 residents, and 19 of 307 employees at Manteno Veteran’s Home have tested positive since April; all have been retested over past few days, and anyone they had direct contact with has been isolated; one Manteno resident who had been in hospice care for months recently tested positive and passed away;
- No positive cases have been confirmed at Quincy Veterans’ home; 50 residents and 250 staff at Quincy have tested negative, and 289 residents and more than 50 staff are still awaiting test results.
“In this global battle for public health, the heroism of our veterans is more salient than ever. May we forever share their faith that the people, places, and values here at home are worth fighting for,” Pritzker said. “The staff at all of our veterans homes continue to operate with extreme vigilance in ensuring the safety of our nation’s heroes through this crisis.”
Pushback Against Reopening Plan
Pritzker also had choice words Wednesday for elected officials who have not only been challenging his authority to extend the state’s stay-at-home order, but who have been taking steps to reopen specific counties in defiance of the governor’s mandate.
“What I don’t have sympathy for is those so intent on disregarding science and logic, so afraid to tell their constituents what they may not want to hear, that they put more people’s lives at risk. Here’s what I want to say to those leaders: you weren’t elected to do what’s easy, you were elected to do what’s right,” Pritzker said.
Madison County Board members have voted in favor of a resolution to reopen the county faster than the governor’s “Reopen Illinois” plan allows. However, the Madison County State’s Attorney warned the resolution does not override the governor’s authority, and recommended local businesses consult their own attorneys before reopening.
Two state lawmakers also have sued the governor, challenging his authority to extend the stay-at-home order beyond the original 30 days of his virus disaster proclamation. And the Adams County Board has voted to demand the governor modify his “Restore Illinois” to shorten the window for when businesses can reopen, and divide the state into smaller regions.
Pritzker warned any businesses that reopen in defiance of his executive order that the state could revoke their licenses, and said counties that try to reopen in defiance of the stay-at-home mandate might not be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for any damages they might cause by ignoring his executive order.
“Let’s be clear. What we’re trying to do here is keep people health and safe, and to reopen the economy safely,” Pritzker said. “If you do it too fast, what you’re going to see is an overrunning of the healthcare system; and very importantly many people getting sick, going into the hospital, ending up in ICU beds, and dying.”
Pritzker also had harsh words for millionaire Willie Wilson, who has said 100 pastors will hold services on Sunday in defiance of the stay-at-home order.
“it’s a ridiculous call on the part of Willie Wilson,” Pritzker said.
The governor noted that those pastors run largely African-American churches, and many of their parishioners are elderly, and even more susceptible to the virus.
“Putting those groups of people together in larger groups is an enormous mistake, and I would suggest that Willie Wilson do his homework, that he look at what the science and data says that that will do to people that obviously I care deeply about, and I assume he does too,” Pritzker said.