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With 59 more deaths, Illinois surpasses 43,000 coronavirus cases

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the latest deaths on Sunday while reporting 2,126 new cases of the coronavirus in Illinois since Saturday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a COVID-19 briefing.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The state announced Sunday another 59 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois as the total caseload reached 43,903.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the latest deaths while reporting 2,126 new cases of the coronavirus in Illinois since Saturday. Cook County saw the youngest deaths, which included two women and a man in their 20s.

The virus has been found in 96 of the state’s 102 counties, and a total of 1,933 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois.

Pritzker said 13,333 COVID-19 test results came back since Saturday, marking the third consecutive day Illinois reached his stated goal of running at least 10,000 tests within 24 hours. That’s the testing capacity experts say is needed to better understand how widespread the virus is throughout the state.

In all, more than 214,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Illinois since the pandemic first hit.

Pritzker said hospitalizations relating to the coronavirus were relatively flat compared to Saturday, with nearly 4,600 people in hospital beds. Of that, 1,267 patients were in ICU, including 772 people on ventilators.

The governor said the state could end up needing fewer hospital beds as it has bent the curve of the COVID-19 virus’ spread in the state, so plans at the McCormick Place field hospital have been scaled back from its initial plans to hold 3,000 beds across three halls.

“We are now focused on two halls with 500 beds each,” Pritzker said, noting that more beds can be set up if needed.

The first hall at the McCormick Place field hospital is for low-acuity COVID-19 patients, while the second is for those with more serious cases of the virus.

“We have the ability to move into the other spaces we had planned, but it does not appear we’ll need those, at least in the immediate future,” Pritzker said.

With Illinois’ stay-at-home order extended an additional month and in-person school canceled for the remainder of the school year, Pritzker encouraged teachers and school administrators to spend the summer preparing for e-learning even if it’s not needed in the fall.

“It’s still unclear what things will look like, but e-learning is an important thing for us to develop either way,” he said.

Pritzker said the state has funding available for school districts struggling to transition from in-person teaching.

“What we’ve learned in this short period of time is that many schools are not ready for e-learning but should be, so the state has funds available to help school districts spin up e-learning.”

Also on Sunday, free three-ply face masks were distributed to local residents in the Pullman neighborhood on the South Side.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and philanthropist Willie Wilson, founder of the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation, helped distribute the masks at a drive-thru station in the Pullman Community Center parking lot.

“The health and well-being of our residents are our top priority, and in the absence of a strong federal role, we need to mobilize available City resources to provide protection and assistance to all Chicagoans who need it,” Beale said in a press release.