Illinois reached a grim milestone Wednesday as health officials reported 2,049 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a single-day record.
Health officials also announced that 98 additional people died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 1,565. In all, officials have diagnosed 35,108 Illinois residents with the virus, most of whom have recovered.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday the increase in the number of confirmed cases should not be a surprise, since the number of tests for the virus conducted in the past 24 hours soared to an all-time high of 9,349, an increase of more than 2,700 tests from the previous day.
On Friday, Illinois officials confirmed 1,842 cases of the coronavirus, the previous high-water mark.
Pritzker has said the state needs to be testing 10,000 people a day to track — and stop — the spread of the virus. The state has yet to meet that benchmark.
“We are starting to see some success,” Pritzker said, adding that he has been working to get enough supplies for the tests. “We are, indeed, doing better.”
Anyone in Illinois experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus can now get a test, regardless of whether they have a doctor’s note, Pritzker said.
The governor has said that an expanded testing capacity must be in place before he lifts the stay-at-home order, which he is expected to extend into May before it expires on April 30.
Since the start of the pandemic, Pritzker has been critical of the lack of testing — a failure that he lays at the feet of the federal government. The lack of testing in February is the “foundational mistake” of this pandemic, Pritzker said late last month.
Also Wednesday, the governor announced a new drive-thru testing facility is open in Aurora at the Chicago Premium Outlet Outdoor Shopping Mall, 1650 Premium Outlet Blvd. That facility can conduct 600 tests a day, he said.
In addition, Pritzker said a new facility will open Friday at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Rockford at 1601 Parkview Ave. That facility can conduct 500 tests a day.
“Testing will let us know just how widespread the virus is,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “More testing is one of the keys needed to end this pandemic.”
As of Wednesday, 4,665 people are hospitalized in Illinois with the coronavirus, including 1,220 people in intensive care and 747 people on ventilators, and those numbers continue to grow, Ezike said.
“You don’t want to be on this side of the curve,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said the economic toll of the stay-at-home order and its impact on people’s mental health weighs on him — but he warned Illinoisans not to expect things to go back to the way they were before the pandemic swept the globe.
“I think we’re all recognizing that ‘normal’ is gonna look a little bit different going forward until there’s a vaccine,” Pritzker said.
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.
—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