Coronavirus state count at 25, including 1 new in Lake County, 2 in Arlington Heights
The number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois has risen to 25, including a Lake County man and two others being treated in Arlington Heights, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a briefing Wednesday.
The state's caseload is up from 19 on Tuesday and 11 on Monday. The daily coronavirus case update came as the governor fumed about a shortage of test kits that confirm the disease. "We're not getting enough test kits," Pritzker said.
The new cases include a Lake County man in his 50s and five people from Chicago or suburban Cook County -- a woman in her 50s, a man in his 40s, two men in their 70s and a man in his 80s.
Arlington Heights-based Northwest Community Healthcare is treating two of those patients -- one of whom is in isolation at Northwest Community Hospital while the other is quarantined at home.
"We are actively investigating the travel histories, the exposures, trying to identify any close contacts," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said. "All are in isolation whether it's at home or in the hospital."
The Illinois General Assembly has postponed its legislative session until March 24 in an effort to reduce the spread of the respiratory disease, which can cause pneumonia.
Pritzker also advised people to consider voting by mail. Thursday is the last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot; residents should contact their local election authorities, some of which offer online applications, and more information is available at elections.il.gov.
The governor praised Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for canceling Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade and Sunday's South Side Irish parade. "It's a tough call, but it's the right call," he said.
"Going into the weekend, make smart choices and maintain good health practices," Pritzker said. "It's on all of us to minimize the spread" of COVID-19.
Pritzker said he is reaching out to sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, regarding coronavirus-prevention policies for games, particularly with baseball's Opening Day approaching on March 26.
Regarding tests, the White House promised last week that at least one commercial lab would start churning out millions of tests by Friday, Pritzker said.
"It's now Wednesday and as far as I can tell -- in the state of Illinois -- we have none of that," the governor said.
Pritzker also said he would file emergency rules this week to ensure people unemployed because of the coronavirus qualify for unemployment benefits.
Neither of the new patients being treated at Northwest Community Healthcare are related to two previous coronavirus patients cared for by the hospital, and they are not connected to each other, officials said.
The patient at the hospital is stable and doing well, according to NCH. Both infections appear to be travel-related, officials said, adding they could not release more information for privacy reasons.
While the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed both Northwest Community Healthcare cases, their tests remain to be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as do the other cases.
The Centers for Disease Control this week recommended communities experiencing minimal to moderate impact from COVID-19 should cancel gatherings of more than 250 people or "move to smaller groupings."
"Local governments should work with their health officials and emergency folks to make decisions with this guideline in mind," Pritzker said.
Asked about large office buildings and contagion, he said "buildings that have hundreds and thousands of people in them aren't necessarily buildings that need to close; it's really a question of proximity of people to one another."
For people worried they might have symptoms of coronavirus, Ezike urged them to call their doctor first, and if they feel it's necessary to go to an emergency room, alert the staff in advance.