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Illinois reports 33 more COVID-19 deaths as total cases surpass 30K

Illinois officials announced another 33 deaths and 1,197 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The state has seen 30,357 cases and 1,290 deaths since the pandemic first hit.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a daily briefing in March 2020.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a March 20 coronavirus briefing.
Sun-Times file

Illinois health officials announced another 33 deaths and 1,197 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 30,357.

In all, 1,290 people have died of the coronavirus in Illinois since the pandemic first hit. The virus has now been reported in 93 of the state’s 102 counties.

Of the 33 latest deaths, 19 were in Cook County.

“Though we can never go back to how we were and will never get our loved ones back, we must still stand together and employ the ongoing required sacrifices to end this pandemic,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A day earlier, Illinois recorded its highest number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in a single day, matching Thursday with 125 fatalities.

Ezike said she has “guarded, cautious optimism” the state is bending the curve and continues to avoid overloading its health care system. But she warned Illinois has not yet hit its peak.

Illinois also ran at least 5,914 COVID-19 tests Saturday, officials said. In all, more than 142,000 have been tested for the virus.

The latest batch of tests is smaller than the 7,241 reported yesterday — and still below the goal of 10,000 daily tests needed to accurately understand the virus’ spread throughout Illinois — but Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the daily totals fluctuate depending on when commercial testing companies send their reports.

“Today, we got no report from one of the largest commercial laboratories in the country, so that’s a number of tests that were obviously done and completed but never reported to us,” Pritzker said. “We’re a little bit at the whim of these commercial laboratories.”

Pritzker also announced another airlift of PPE that will arrive from China on Monday, following the first flight that came in last week.

The protective equipment will be taken to state warehouses to be inspected before being shipped out to first responders and health care workers, Pritzker said.

“If it strikes you as atypical that in the midst of a national emergency, a state is directly airlifting emergency response materials from another country, you’d be right,” Pritzker said, again blasting the White House’s response to the crisis.

“That’s the landscape we’re operating in: competing with other states, other countries and even our own federal government for supplies.”

The governor also addressed those calling for an end to his stay-at-home order, which is scheduled through April 30 but could be extended. He sympathized with people who want the order to end but explained it protects their safety.

“I want people to get back to work, go back to school and for us to have a great summer, but we’re in the middle of an emergency — a pandemic — and it’s like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” Pritzker said.

He said he consults with scientists, doctors, researchers and other experts daily about how restrictions from his stay-at-home order can be loosened safely.

“We’ve got to be very careful as we make decisions about changing the stay-at-home order, so I’m looking at all the ways we can open things up and keep people safe,” Pritzker said.

He did not expand on what specific adjustments could be made to the stay-at-home order, but he doubled down in suggesting that everyone should cover their faces when leaving home.

“When you wear a mask, you’re keeping other people safe, and they’re keeping you safe when they’re wearing a mask,” Pritzker said.