COVID-19 cases pass 35,100; Aurora mall to offer drive-up testing
The number of Illinoisans dying from COVID-19 grew by 98 as of Wednesday, with 2,049 more cases, a new high that's attributable to more testing, state officials explained.
During his daily briefing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced a fourth state-run drive-through testing facility opened Wednesday in Aurora at the Chicago Premium Outlets mall, just north of I-88 at Farnsworth Avenue.
The Aurora site, expected to accept 600 specimens a day, is available to anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, and a doctor's permission is not required.
The Illinois Department of Public Health, however, advised residents the facility may be crowded initially and waits could be long. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, or while supplies last.
"Testing is a vital feature of a long-term path to building a new normal," Pritzker said.
Compared to Illinois' population of 12.7 million, only a small fraction of tests have occurred -- 164,346. But that number includes 41,757 tests administered since April 16.
Statewide, 1,565 people have died from the respiratory disease and there are 35,108 cases as of Wednesday.
Pritzker confirmed he's consulting with medical experts and looking at an extension of the stay-at-home rule, currently existing through April 30.
Asked about whether summer camps can go ahead, Pritzker said, "I'm not making decisions about summer camps. The summer camps and parents will make those decisions.
"I feel terrible about not having a perfect answer," he said. But "COVID-19 is still out there. It's still going to infect people.
"We're still going to need social distancing even if we don't have a stay-at-home rule. You'll still need people wearing masks, you'll still need a lot of things that might make it difficult for a summer camp to operate, but it doesn't mean a summer camp can't figure it out."
Some states including Georgia are allowing certain businesses, such as bowling alleys and nail salons, to reopen.
Pritzker said more COVID-19 testing, tracing ability and treatment options are needed before fully reopening Illinois' economy. "Some states are reopening anyway. That's their choice ... I think many people will get sick as a result."
A fifth drive-through testing site in Rockford at the University of Illinois College of Medicine opens Friday. Other locations are in Harwood Heights, Bloomington and Markham.
People seeking a test will need a functioning car window and must bring photo identification. Walk-ups are not allowed.
The governor also addressed whether state parks could be reopened, saying although it seems easy to adhere to social distancing in large areas of open space, it's problematic for employees.
"One of the biggest reasons we closed state parks was because we have state workers that have to work in close proximity -- often in buildings and in trucks," Pritzker said.
As of Tuesday, 4,665 Illinoisans were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,220 were in the ICU with 747 on ventilators, IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said.