Pritzker Announces COVID-19 Relief Fund as Cases Soar to 2,538

Illinois health officials on Thursday reported the largest single-day jump in COVID-19 cases in the state – 673 – surpassing a record set just a day earlier.

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Statewide, 2,538 people have tested positive for the virus, and 26 have died. Patients have ranged in age from younger than 12 months to 99 years old.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike thanked those who have been staying home and following social distancing guidelines. “It may not seem like it now, but you are helping us to get to the end and eventually get to returning to our regular normal,” she said Thursday.

“To those disregarding social distancing guidelines, I’m begging you to think of your fellow man, woman and child. The interconnectedness between us is so clear and we need the entire community to perform these important tasks or else we suffer the consequences for all,” she said.

Temperatures in the 50s on Wednesday led people in Chicago to flock to the lakefront and gather outside across the state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during his press briefing Thursday on COVID-19. “Throwing caution to the wind in the midst of a deadly pandemic is not acceptable. You are putting not just yourself but your family and your friends in danger. You’re also putting strangers in danger. … I’m begging you. If you don’t have to be out, stay inside,” he said.

If you do go outside, go somewhere that’s not crowded and abide by social distancing guidelines – stay at least 6 feet apart and don’t gather in groups of 10 or more, Pritzker said.

“Right now, hosting a party, crowding down by the lake playing a pickup basketball game in a public park – if you’re doing these things, you’re spitting in the face of the doctors and nurses and first responders who are risking everything, so that you can survive,” he said.

Earlier Thurday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the closure of the lakefront trail, beaches and adjoining parks, the Bloomingdale Trail and the Chicago Riverwalk.

“Our lakefront is our treasure. It’s really our jewel, and sets us apart from any other place in the world,” Lightfoot said, “but congregating on our lakefront, to be blunt, is going to create a risk that is unacceptable and could lead to death. That is why we are taking these actions and going back and saying again: dear god, stay home, save lives.”

Also on Thursday, Pritzker announced that the newly created Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund has so far raised $23 million to help residents of the state.

“It is so often the case for Illinoisans and all Americans that during our darkest days we live our finest hours,” Pritzker said. “With that in mind, I’m thrilled to announce a new initiative to support the nonprofit organizations caring for those most in need as we combat this virus.”

The fund will focus on filling Illinois residents’ most basic needs, including emergency food and basic supplies, interim housing and shelter, primary health care services, utility and financial assistance, supports for children and other vulnerable populations, and nonprofit safety and operations assistance.

The initiative is in partnership with the United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, which will be operating the fund, separately and independently from the state, according to Pritzker’s office.

The fund will be guided by a steering committee made up of leaders from the philanthropic, social service, civic and business communities across the state and chaired by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the governor’s sister. Pritzker and his wife have donated $2 million to the fund, and another $2 million via his foundation.

“We are grateful to all of our early funders and we would appreciate anyone across our state who is looking to help to give to this cause. Even a dollar or $5 can make a difference in the lives of others at this horrific time,” Penny Pritzker said. “The point is to get theee funds to the organizations and nonprofit as quickly as possible, so we can help our most vulnerable residens feeling so much pain right now.”

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]

Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources

Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including: 

—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick

Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue

If you think you have COVID-19:

Call you doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.

Additional resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois’ COVID-19 website
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IPDH COVID-19 email link
City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link

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