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33 more coronavirus deaths in Illinois bring tally to 307

With 1,006 new cases, there are now 12,262 Illinois residents are now confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, officials said. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said the virus has now spread to 75 of the state’s 102 counties.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a daily briefing in March 2020.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday announced the latest tally of Illinois deaths from the coronavirus. He also planned to outline state stockpiles of the personal protective equipment needed by first responders and medical personnel.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Illinois health officials on Monday said another 33 people have died from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s death total to 307.

There are also 1,006 new cases, bringing the total to 12,262 positive cases in the state, according to officials. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said the virus has now spread to 75 of 102 counties. Those additional deaths include 22 from Cook County. The youngest death reported statewide on Monday was a Cook County man in his 30s, officials said.

The Democratic governor also addressed the racial and socio-economic disparities the pandemic has highlighted thus far. About 70% of coronavirus deaths of Chicago residents were African-Americans, even though they make up just 29 percent of the city’s population. Statewide, 129 of those who died were African-American, and 114 were white, according to the Illinois Dept. of Public Health.

Pritzker says communities of color in Chicago and suburban Cook are seeing worse outcomes with COVID-19. He called it a “product of generations of systemic disinvestment in communities of color, compounded by disparities in healthcare delivery systems and access.” And he said more testing in those communities will help stop the spread.

Lightfoot on Monday also announced that the city will launch a “hyper-focused strategy centered around deep, consistent education and outreach to communities most adversely impacted by COVID-19.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the state’s public health department, took that issue further, saying the coronavirus crisis is highlighting issues the state will have to deal with for years to come, including the devastation of losing loved ones, unemployment, financial bankruptcy, and even a disruption in routine medical care.

And as millions of Illinois residents stay home to try to flatten the curve, Ezike warned that many parts of the state will see the warmest day of the year on Tuesday. The National Weather Service in Chicago says the high will be about 75 degrees in Chicago.

“Please stay home. I assure you if people congregate tomorrow, we will set the state back in our fight against COVID-19,” Ezike said.

Ezike also outlined that 70% of those who have died in Illinois due to coronavirus have had some underlying conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

“We must continue to stay home. We must wash our hands. Keep practicing our physical distancing and wearing a covering. Those are the tools and the keys that we have,” Ezike said. “Let’s use these weapons to fight against this war. We have to end this pandemic,.

Pritzker on Monday also outlined the state’s supply of PPE, or personal protective equipment. The governor’s office also said there were 54 more people placed on ventilators due to COVID-19 from Friday to Monday.

The Democratic governor for weeks has warned that Illinois has not yet reached its peak and that more ventilators and medical equipment were needed to treat the most severe cases.

He took that message to national television once again Sunday morning on CNN, telling Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that President Donald Trump has mismanaged a federal stockpile of much-needed medical equipment.

“If we had relied upon the White House and its obligation to fulfill our needs ... our state and nearly every state in the United States would come up short and could not protect our health care workers and our first responders,” Pritzker said Monday.

“But here’s the good news. We haven’t trusted what we were told by the White House.”

Instead, he said, his office and officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency “have been working tirelessly to pursue all other routes to acquire additional PPE for the fight against COVID-19 in Illinois.”

Every 10 days, Pritzker said, the state is going through 1.5 mil N95 masks, 25 million gloves, 4.4 million gowns and 700K surgical masks. At that rate, “the equipment we received from the federal stockpile will last only a handful of days,” Pritzker said..

“As you can see, when you compare our federal shipments to our burn rate, the product that we’ve received from the federal stockpile will last only a handful of days in this multi-month battle.”

Pritzker said Illinois’ hospital capacity has been expanded to 28,000 non-ICU beds, and 2,680 ICU beds.

By Sunday evening, Trump responded to Pritzker during a briefing, saying Pritzker has “not performed well” and is “always complaining.” The president, however, said he is sending Illinois 600 ventilators.

Trump also said the federal government is “building a 2,500 bed hospital in McCormick Place and we’re helping to staff it.”

Pritzker and Lightfoot on Friday unveiled the first 500 beds of what is actually a 3,000 bed alternate care hospital at the massive site. And while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped to quickly build the site, the Pritzker administration, not the feds, has staffed it — with local health officials and administrators. But Pritzker on Monday said he was told by the federal government that Army and other military medical staff “will be made available” to Illinois.

“So I’m very pleased to hear that, and as to where they’re going to be assigned, we haven’t yet had that conversation,” Pritzker said.

According to a White House official, Illinois has received 367,700 N95 masks, 300 ventilators, 875,000 surgical masks, 174,400 face shields, 142,600 surgical gowns, 4,000 coveralls and 693,600 gloves from the federal government as of April 4. Chicago has separately received 150 ventilators and 172,700 N95 masks, as well as other supplies.

Pritzker has requested 4,000 ventilators from the federal government, and has repeatedly said the government is filling just a fraction of those requests. The state has received 450 ventilators — even less than the 1,400 ventilators Vice President Mike Pence said the state needs.

The state, however, will receive $115.3 million it has requested in federal support to combat coronavirus, according to the White House.

Pritzker on Sunday closed out his daily briefing by thanking the Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois National Guard and FEMA.

“I think sometimes people mistake when I am being critical of the White House or the president,” Pritzker said. “They mistake that for me being critical of the people who are helping at the federal level.”