7 new deaths in Illinois, 673 more infected with coronavirus
Illinois experienced its largest single-day death toll from the coronavirus outbreak Thursday as state health officials reported seven more people have died.
The virus has now killed 26 in Illinois.
The number of infected patients rose by 673, an increase of 36% overnight to 2,538 people.
A fiery Gov. J.B. Pritzker blasted residents who were spotted Wednesday out in parks and along the Chicago lakefront, thumbing their noses at the stay-at-home order and ignoring social distancing initiatives.
"This virus doesn't care if you're bored and want to hang out with your friends," he said. "You are spitting in the face of doctors, nurses and first responders who are risking everything so you can survive. Stay inside."
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said models predicted this type of climb in deaths and infection rates, but it was less steep than initially anticipated.
"We're in a period of exponential growth, so we know these numbers are going to have these giant rises," Ezike said. "We're fortunately under some of the predictions from the very beginning because of the limits enacted by Gov. Pritzker."
But Pritzker noted it will take several more days of following the stay-at-home order to know if "we're seeing a bending of the curve."
The new deaths included a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s. State health officials did not release what counties the victims were from.
There are now cases in 37 Illinois counties, officials said.
Ezike urged residents to continue to follow the recommended health guidelines intended to prevent the spread of the virus.
"I'm begging you to think of your fellow man, woman and child," Ezike said. "The interconnectedness between all of us is so clear and we need our entire community to perform these tasks, or we will all suffer the consequences."
At Thursday's news conference, Pritzker was flanked by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the state's senior senator, who was there to help explain the intricacies of the federal government's recently approved $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. The bill still has to be approved by the House and signed by President Donald Trump, though no one has indicated that would not occur.
Durbin noted many individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year would received $1,200 from the federal government, but anyone making more than $100,000 would receive nothing. Families with children would receive a $500 stipend for each child.
Hospitals will split $120 billion to help fund operations during the fight against the outbreak. Restaurants and other small businesses with less than 500 employees will also be eligible for grants to help cover payroll and rent. He did not say how much the grants totaled.
"Something miraculous has happened in Washington," Durbin said. "We've actually done something on a timely basis."
Pritzker also announced the formation of a statewide relief fund for nonprofit organizations helping those in need during the outbreak. It is headed by his older sister Penny, the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Obama. So far the fund has raised $23 million, officials said. The governor has donated $2 million individually and another $2 million through his foundation.
He added that 100,000 more unemployment claims have been made this month than last year at this time.
"There is nothing more important we can do to help the too many people across the state who are desperate for assistance," Penny Pritzker said. "This will allow us to quickly deploy needed and critical resources."
To donate to the fund, visit the website ilcovidresponsefund.org.