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14 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Illinois, bringing total to 46

The new cases were announced after Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all schools closed across the state to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike provides an update Friday on Illinois’ COVID-19 response.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike provides an update Friday on Illinois’ COVID-19 response.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Fourteen additional Illinois people have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 46 as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States.

Nine of the new cases were reported in Chicago, four from elsewhere in Cook County and one in Lake County, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said at a Friday news conference. Ages of the new cases range from the 20s to the 90s.

Most of the overall Illinois cases have afflicted middle aged to elderly people, though officials a day earlier confirmed a young child was being treated in Chicago.

“Like it or not, this virus is here in Illinois, and it will continue to spread,” Ezike said. “We want to minimize the number of illnesses and deaths associated with it. ... We are asking that everyone do their part to limit the spread and protect those who are at highest risk of infection by staying home.”

About 30% of the Illinois cases are associated with travel, and 41% of the patients were in contact with someone else who had COVID-19, officials said. There’s no clear known connection for the remaining cases — almost a third of them.

No one has died of the virus in Illinois. Ezike said one of the 46 confirmed cases remains in critical condition.

“Most of the people are going to fare well,” Ezike said. “There’s a higher risk for those who are older and that have pre-existing medical conditions and those are the people that we’re really going to be focusing on: them not getting an infection in the first place.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also warned that while most cases are in the Chicago area, the virus is expected to impact other areas of the state.

“I know there are communities across the state where there is no one that has COVID-19. Your community is not immune. We have seen this across the world,” Pritzker said. “It has the ability to go anywhere. So I know there are people that live in central Illinois right now who feel like, well, gee, nothing’s hit my town or my county. Unfortunately, everybody is susceptible, and so we should all be on the same page here. This is coming. It’s here. We’re going to have to live with it for a while. There is no vaccine yet.”

The new cases were announced as Pritzker ordered all Illinois schools closed to help contain the outbreak, canceling classes for more than 2 million students statewide, including roughly 350,000 in Chicago Public Schools.

Ezike and Pritzker again urged people to stay home during the outbreak.

“We know the difficulty of these measures. We would rather at the end of this be criticized for doing too much,” Ezike said.

Pritzker pleaded: “Please, this weekend, if you can, stay home...If you don’t have to travel, don’t. This isn’t forever. This is a sacrifice in the short term, to help our hospitals, our health care workers, our testing laboratories and our vulnerable and elderly residents.”

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles