COVID-19 cases in Illinois top 5,000; Outbreak of virus reported at prison

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — There are now more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Illinois and 73 deaths.

State health officials announced 461 new cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the statewide total to 5,057.

Eight new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, bringing the state’s total to 73.

Among the deaths was an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center. Additionally, 12 men who were incarcerated at Stateville are now hospitalized, including several requiring ventilators. There are 77 more incarcerated individuals with symptoms who are isolated at the facility.  Eleven Stateville staff members are also being isolated.

This is a concern, not only for the Department of Corrections, but in all facilities across the state that have a densely kept population

Facilities like long-term care and nursing homes, especially those with high risk populations.

With that in mind, Pritzker reiterated the state’s search for personal protective equipment or PPE for healthcare workers and for others who come in to close contact with COVID-19 patients.

Pritzker, who has clashed with President Donald Trump over the federal government’s pandemic response, also reported Monday that 300,000 face masks promised to him by the White House were delivered Sunday — albeit the wrong kind.

“What they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised, but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for,” Pritzker said. Such personal protective equipment for health care workers is “not a luxury that they should have to ration.”

The state is re-doubling its efforts to try and get more PPE or personal protective equipment in its hands. 

Including in the protective gear the state has to give to public health departments and hospitals right now is:

  • 420,000 N95 masks 
  • 330,000 gloves
  • 108,000 goggles 
  • 41,000 surgical masks 
  • 22,000 gowns

Additional space will come from temporarily reopening two shuttered hospitals, the former Advocate Sherman Hospital campus in Elgin and the Metro South Health Center in Blue Island, Pritzker said.

As far as schools are concerned, outside of CPS, the return date is still set for April 7. That may change soon, even as early as Tuesday. 

Districts across the state were given until March 31 to implement an e-learning program for their students. 

The governor said he will look at that and the latest guidance from the CDC to extend social distancing until the end of April to make his call on if in-person classes will resume this school year. 

In total, more than 30,000 Illinoisans have been tested for the coronavirus.

Although new cases reported Monday were just 40% of the 1,105 counted Sunday, Pritzker and Ezike noted it’s no indication that new infections have peaked. It has more to do the timing of reporting of test results from commercial labs.

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