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141 more coronavirus deaths — second highest daily toll — with extended stay-at-home order to begin Friday

With almost 270,000 tests performed, Gov J.B. Pritzker’s office said Illinois is ranked seventh in the nation for total testing as of April 26. The state is also 20th among all tests completed per capita, and fifth in all states in terms of average completed tests over the last week.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker walks into an April 23 news briefing at the Thompson Center in the Loop.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker walks into an April 23 news briefing at the Thompson Center in the Loop.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

With an extended stay-at-home executive order set to take effect, officials on Thursday said another 141 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, marking the second highest daily death toll the state has seen during the pandemic.

The latest deaths — second only to the 144 announced Tuesday — raised the Illinois total to 2,355.

Another 2,563 new cases were also reported, bringing the state’s total to 52,918 cases. The virus also spread to an additional county — downstate Brown County — and has now been confirmed in 97 of 102 counties.

The state received 13,200 tests results back on Wednesday.

With nearly 270,000 tests performed, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said Illinois is ranked seventh in the nation for total number of tests performed as of April 26. The state is also 20th among all tests completed per capita, and fifth in all states in terms of average completed tests over the last week.

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There were eight additional COVID-19 patients placed on ventilators from midnight on Tuesday to midnight on Wednesday, the governor’s office said.

Pritzker also announced that the state is adding two more drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, which will now total seven locations. Waukegan and East St. Louis sites will be open next week. New sites at Rockford and Aurora have brought in about 1,000 specimens a day.

Speaking at the daily briefing, Jose Sanchez, CEO of Norwegian American Hospital, said the Humboldt Park hospital started drive-thru testing this week and has completed hundreds of tests. He noted that many in the Latino and African-American communities have significant underlying conditions, as well as lack of basic necessities.

“This puts them most at risk of dying,” Sanchez said, adding more than 80% of those tested at the Humboldt Park hospital are Latino and African-American, and half have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the total number of coronavirus deaths in Illinois, 981 were white, 828 were black, 326 were Hispanic and 99 were Asian, according to the state’s public health department.

Modified stay-at-home order taking effect

Pritzker’s extended executive order beginning Friday requires all adults, children over two and everyone medically able to tolerate a face covering to wear one in any public place where they can’t maintain a 6 foot social distance. It also allows for the reopening of some non-essential businesses for pick-up and delivery, a “phased reopening” of selected state parks, the opening of golf courses and garden centers, as well as the ability for surgical centers and hospitals to begin certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions.

The Democratic governor last week announced he was extending the order until May 30.

In addition to suits filed by Republican lawmakers, a church in northern Illinois on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the statewide restrictions. The Beloved Church of Lena wants an immediate injunction that would allow it to conduct worship services.

The governor’s initial executive order did not specifically mention houses of worship, but it did restrict gatherings of 10 people or more, under CDC guidelines.

Pritzker noted most faith leaders are conducting online church services. Regarding churches who have said they’ll open their doors Sunday, the governor urged leaders to put the health and safety of congregants first.

“We’re still climbing this ladder of hospitalizations and ICU beds being filled, and until we get to the other side, even according to President Trump’s plan, we really can’t begin to open up until we have 14 days of down cycle of those numbers,” Pritzker said.