Officials on Saturday announced another 125 deaths due to COVID-19 in Illinois, matching the highest number of deaths attributed to the virus in a single day.
The state also recorded another 1,585 cases of the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 29,160 confirmed cases and 1,259 deaths since the outbreak hit the state.
The daily death spike was tied for the largest yet, as Illinois tallied 125 deaths two days prior.
The virus has spread across most of the state map and is now confirmed in 93 of the state’s 102 counties.
Illinois also ran at least 7,241 COVID-19 tests Friday. That’s closer to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s goal of administering at least 10,000 tests daily, which experts say is needed to get an accurate accounting of the pandemic’s spread throughout the state.
More than 137,000 people have been tested overall in Illinois, according to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the state’s Department of Public Health.
“With more access to testing, we will learn of many more positive cases,” Ezike warned. “But that information is necessary, and it will help us make the adjustments we need to provide the available resources and support wherever needed across the state.”
Pritzker also announced that the state’s telehealth program for patients with less severe cases of COVID-19 now covers northern Illinois through a partnership with Advocate Aurora Health Care.
The program — which launched last week in southern and central Illinois through partnerships with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and OSF HealthCare — provides patients recovering at home with daily virtual health visits and wellness kits stocked with thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs and alcohol wipes.
People in northern Illinois can contact the program’s new hotline at (866) 443-2584.
Ezike continued to express a “guarded cautious optimism” that the state is bending the curve to avoid overloading its health care system — but warned the state has not yet hit its peak.
“We must continue to be strong and hold the line. I know people are tired of hearing the same message, but let’s keep up the progress we’ve made thus far,” she said.
“You don’t know until you’re past the peak that you’ve hit the peak,” Pritzker later added, explaining that scientists are still examining the outbreak’s trends to advise on whether his sweeping stay-at-home order should be extended and for how long.
The governor also recognized the mental and emotional toll the pandemic has taken on people, and again encouraged people to share their feelings with friends, family members or a confidant.
“But it’s equally important to look out the window, walk outside and look at all the hopeful signs, because those signs are all around us,” Pritzker said.
He highlighted nonprofit organizations like Urban Autism Solutions in Chicago, which launched digital meet-ups for young adults with autism to make friends and have fun, and W&W Towing in south suburban Dixmoor, which started delivering care packages to seniors on Chicago’s South Side and suburbs.
“Everywhere you look, there are people stepping in to fill the gaps in other peoples’ lives,” Pritzker said. “They’re being neighborly and the kind of friend we want our kids to grow up to be.”