As COVID-19 Deaths Rise, Pritzker Orders 3,620 Ventilators

Governor thanks California for loaning 100 ventilators to state, vows to ‘pay it forward’

On Tuesday, Illinois surpassed a grim milestone it set less than a week ago: the largest single-day jump in deaths. Statewide, 380 have now died from the virus (an increase of 73 since Monday) and 13,549 have tested positive for it, according to public health officials.

“There are so many tragedies here,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during his daily briefing Tuesday afternoon. “The countless family members, loved ones, friends, neighbors who grieve. The indefinite delay of funerals and celebrations of life, and the fact that this will not be the last day we say goodbye to our fellow Illinoisans because of the terrible toll of COVID-19.”

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The state reported deaths in more than a dozen counties, including Cook, which had the most fatalities in the past 24 hours. “It’s OK to let yourself feel all the pain you feel today. I too am grieving, but I want you to know that my grief is only fueling my efforts to fight this virus and win,” Pritzker said.

Part of Pritzker’s fight against COVID-19 has been to secure necessary medical equipment and supplies, including ventilators. And on Tuesday, the governor announced the state has placed orders for 3,620 ventilators and that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is lending Illinois 100 ventilators.

“I want to express my gratitude, my genuine sincere gratitude to the people of California and to the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who sent us 100 ventilators overnight for use by patients here in Illinois,” Pritzker said. “It is truly incredible to work with elected officials across the nation who are providing true leadership. My pledge to the state of California and every other state and territory is when we can, when we are past our peak Illinois will pay it forward. We will pay it forward in any way we can, including passing along these ventilators to the next hotspot in the nation and any others we may be able to spare.”

The state has also received 600 ventilators from the federal government, according to Pritzker.

As of Monday, 3,680 known and suspected COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with 1,166 in intensive care units and 821 on ventilators, according to the governor. Statewide, 35% of the state’s 2,709 ICU beds are currently available and roughly 57% of the state’s ventilators are available, according to officials, who said there are at total of 28,139 hospital beds in the state.

“Ventilators are critical tools in this fight. They can save lives, but they are not a cure. No magic quantity of ventilators will solve COVID-19 for us. No number of ventilators will make up for a person ignoring our stay-at-home order or not taking their due diligence in washing their hands or other orders we’ve asked you to follow,” Pritzker said. “Ventilators are but one part of what amounts to a many pronged approach. But all of them are phenomenally critical altogether: staying at home is the most likely reason you can avoid ending up on a ventilator.”

Pritzker on Tuesday also announced that a member of the governor’s office has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual began feeling ill on March 26 and immediately went home, according to Pritzker, who said the office underwent a deep cleaning.

Pritzker said he had very little interaction with the individual who became ill. He has not been tested for COVID-19, he said, nor has Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. The staffer who fell ill continues to self-isolate at home and no other staff members have experienced symptoms, according to Pritzker.

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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