Illinois deaths from COVID-19 surpass 1,000; Illinois joins Midwest coalition
The number of Illinoisans who have died from COVID-19 surpassed 1,000, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday while announcing a coalition with six other Midwestern governors to coordinate reopening their states' economies.
The state experienced its "greatest number of deaths in a 24-hour period," with 125 fatalities in one day, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said at a briefing.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 1,140, which is the lowest one-day total since April 6, when 1,006 infections were reported.
There have been 25,733 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,072 deaths in 90 of Illinois' 102 counties.
The states joining Illinois in the coalition are Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky.
The seven governors will use a "fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19," Pritzker said.
But he added that every state's economy is diverse and each governor will determine when to lift stay-at-home orders.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers lengthened his state's stay-at-home order until 8 a.m. May 26 on Thursday. It had been set to expire April 24.
Asked when or if he will extend Illinois' stay-at-home order past April 30, Pritzker said he will consult with health experts and "we will be making an announcement over the next several days or over the next week."
Loosening stay-at-home restrictions is contingent on a controlled rate of new infections and hospitalizations, increased capability to test and trace, capacity in hospitals to handle a second wave of COVID-19 and strong social distancing standards in the workplace, officials said.
Pritzker also promised to ramp up testing, particularly in Chicago neighborhoods where black and minority residents are being disproportionately stricken by the disease.
Details are still emerging, but a number of federally qualified health centers in the suburbs, Chicago and across the state will be offering tests. Information is forthcoming on the IDPH's COVID-19 website, Pritzker said.
The state's policy had previously restricted testing to people with advanced symptoms who have a doctor's order. Now those limitations will be expanded to individuals with mild symptoms, but details were not entirely clear.
For example, the website at Erie Family Health Centers, with locations in Evanston, Waukegan and numerous sites in Chicago, said expanded COVID-19 testing will begin May 1 and only current patients will be eligible.
Tests "will be by appointment only. No walk-in testing," the website stated.
Pritzker acknowledged that just a fraction -- under 1% -- of the state's 12.7 million people have been tested. But fixes to testing machines at state labs and a windfall of raw materials like swabs coming from state laboratories will accelerate results, he said.