Trump approves Illinois disaster declaration as COVID-19 cases surge to 2,538; total deaths now 26

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — President Donald Trump issued a federal disaster declaration for the State of Illinois Thursday, as health officials say there are now 2,538 cases of COVID-19 across the state.

Trump’s declaration orders federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in areas affected by coronavirus, among other things.

“This declaration will provide emergency funding to increase housing and hospital capacity as we respond to this unprecedented health crisis,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said during a regular update on the coronavirus pandemic Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Health reported 673 new cases of coronavirus in the state Thursday, as well as seven additional deaths. The number of COVID-19 cases in Chicago has now surpassed 1,000.

Among those seven new COVID-19 related deaths were 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 said, although information about where they lived was not provided.

The latest statistics released by the IDPH also provide some insight into the confirmed cases of coronavirus so far. Among the 26 total deaths, approximately 87% are among patients 60 years old and older.

WATCH ABOVE: Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and health officials discuss the latest cases of COVID-19 and measures taken by the state

Pritzker also announced the creation of an Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund Thursday. The fund will raise money from individuals, corporations and foundations to provide additional assistance to nonprofits as they serve communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Managed by the United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, the fund will be headed up by Penny Pritzker, who is also the governor’s sister. The fund has already raised over $24 million dollars, Penny Pritzker said.

“In this moment of extraordinary demand, it’s imperative that these organizations have the resources they need to operate at the highest capacity,” Penny Pritzker said in a statement.

Indiana health officials said Thursday the state’s death toll from the coronavirus has risen by three to 17, with a total of 645 confirmed cases in the state. The Indianapolis 500 also joined a long list of sporting events postponed by the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, U.S. deaths from the coronavirus pandemic topped 1,000. In response to the economic impact of the crisis, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package Wednesday.

“Something miraculous has happened in Washington: we’ve done something on a timely basis,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Thursday. “To think that every senator, Democrat and Republican, came together tells you that we not only understand the gravity of this challenge, but the importance that we move quickly.”

In Chicago, the City officially closed the Lakefront, 606 and Riverwalk until further notice Thursday, a day after crowds gathered in those areas in violation of stay-at-home orders issued by the city and the State of Illinois.

The latest figures from the the Department of Labor found a record number of Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, with initial jobless claims soaring to a seasonally-adjusted 3.28 million.

On Wednesday, Pritzker announced Wednesday that Illinois would follow the lead of the federal government and extend its tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15 to help counteract the economic effects of COVID-19.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also announced Thursday that she will be waiving county fines and fees, and deferring taxes, saving local businesses as much as $35 million.

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