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Medical examiner identifies latest victims of COVID-19 as Cook County death toll hits 19

White House coronavirus response coordinator expresses concern about the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in Cook County, noting it could become a hotspot of the virus’ spread.

Autopsy results for eight more COVID-19 deaths in Cook County were released March 30, 2020.
Autopsy results for six more COVID-19 deaths in Cook County were released March 26, 2020.
Sun-Times file photo

The Cook County medical examiner’s office announced Thursday six more deaths due to the coronavirus, bringing the county’s death toll to 19, as the White House coronavirus response coordinator expressed concern about the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in Cook County, noting it could become a hotspot of the virus’ spread.

Dr. Deborah Birx listed two counties: Wayne County, outside Detroit, in Michigan and Cook County in Illinois.

She said at Thursday’s White House briefing that the task force is not only looking at where the cases are today, but where they will be in the future so the Federal Emergency Management Agency can be alerted to where the next hotspots will be.

“All of the counties that I mentioned in the hotspots are in urban areas or in the communities that serve that urban area,” Birx said.

Three people died from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Wanda Bailey, 63, of Crete died at 5:21 a.m. at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields, according to the medical examiner’s office. Bailey died of pneumonia due to COVID-19 infection with hypertension, heart disease and COPD as contributing factors.

Peggy Rakestraw, 72, of Matteson died at 8:32 p.m. at the St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields. She died of pneumonia from the coronavirus with hypertension, heart disease and diabetes as contributing factors.

Charley Hill, 78, died at 5:44 p.m. at the Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the medical examiner’s office said. An autopsy found the Homewood resident died of pneumonia due to COVID-19 with hypertension and atrial fibrillation as contributing factors.

On Tuesday, 67-year-old Joseph Graham died at 10:29 p.m. at the University of Chicago Medical Center. The South Shore resident of pneumonia from the coronavirus with cancer, hypertension, heart disease and COPD as contributing factors.

On Monday, Harrison Phillips, 70, died at 7:19 p.m. at Jackson Park Hospital, the medical examiner’s office said. The Marquette Park resident died of pneumonia from a COVID-19 infection with hypertension, heart disease and diabetes as contributing factors.

On March 18, Luis Juarez-Jimenez died at Rush University Medical Center from respiratory failure due to COVID-19 infection, the medical examiner’s office said. The Romeoville resident was 54.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois public health chief, announced on Thursday an additional 673 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 2,538 cases. Illinois’ death count now stands at 26.

On Wednesday, the medical examiner’s office identified five other victims of the virus.

Contributing: Associated Press