First infant, a state worker among latest COVID-19 deaths

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

 
 
Updated 3/28/2020 11:36 PM

An infant and a state worker are among the latest fatalities of COVID-19.

The rising toll of the virus reached 47 deaths and 3,491 cases in 43 counties Saturday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cases of the respiratory disease jumped with 465 new cases diagnosed and 13 additional deaths statewide in the last 24 hours, officials said at Gov. J.B. Pritzker's daily briefing Saturday.

The state worker was an employee with the Illinois Department of Human Services and the infant was younger than one year, officials said.

"It's appropriate for any of us to grieve today," Pritzker said. "It's especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child. We should grieve with our family of state employees, with the many people we've already lost to this virus, young and old. We should grieve for the loss of a sense of normalcy that we left behind just a few weeks ago."

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said this is the first infant death from COVID-19, which is rarely fatal in children.

"A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death," Ezike said.

The infant, two men in their 60s, two men in their 70s, a woman in her 70s, and a man and woman both in their 80s are among the latest deaths in Cook County. A McHenry County man in his 50s, two Kane County men in their 70s and two women in their 90s from Lake and Will counties comprise the remainder of the 13 new deaths.

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The Lake County Health Department reported 42 new cases since Friday afternoon, bringing the total testing positive to 264.

County health officials discovered several people who attended the North Shore Christian Quad City Revival in North Chicago the week of March 15-20 have tested positive. Anyone who attended the revival and is experiencing symptoms is urged to stay home and contact their health care provider if symptoms worsen.

"Close interactions with an infected person will likely result in the spreading of the virus to yourself and others, so please do your part to slow the spread," said Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister.

"I want everyone in Illinois to take COVID-19 seriously," said Ezike, reassuring a majority of those infected recover from the illness. "People of all ages and people even healthy will and have contracted the virus."

The only way to reduce the number of people exposed and infected is "to stay at home." There are now a total of 89 detainees in Department of Corrections custody who have tested positive for the coronavirus, as of 5 p.m. Saturday, a statement from the Cook County Sheriff's Office said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Twelve sheriff's office staffers are also stricken.

The numbers at the jail have been spiking daily. As of Friday at the same hour, 38 detainees and nine workers tested positive, an earlier statement said.

Saturday marks one week since Pritzker's stay at home order was put in place.

In the coming days, grocery stores will implement new rules to make shopping for essentials safer.

That includes placing signage at entrances and throughout stores reminding customers to follow the 6-foot social distancing rule, setting up floor markers for social distancing at checkout lines, encouraging cashless purchases for speedy checkouts, installing shield guards in front of the cashiers or baggers, temporarily prohibiting reusable bags, and encouraging the use of online ordering/pickups, and self-checkout lanes.

Pritzker said state agencies are working with communities with the largest concentration of cases and potential immediate need to identify sites that can be converted for use.

The Army Corps of Engineers is setting up beds at Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center to accommodate about 3,000 patients. The makeshift hospital, which will include 750 beds in what the corps commander, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, called self-contained units, will be ready by April 24.

Officials announced the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is leading efforts to expand Medicaid coverage. Illinois has submitted two federal waivers requesting increased flexibility. If approved, uninsured or insured residents could receive Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 treatment.

Pritzker said McDonald's Corp. donated 400,000 N95 respirator masks and he sought the public's help in securing additional personal protective equipment for health workers.

"Each mask or gown or set of gloves will make a difference for one of our front-line workers," Pritzker said.

To donate, email PPE.donations@illinois.gov. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at (800) 889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

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