144 more die in Illinois from COVID-19 as fatalities top 3,600 and state hits record for new cases

Tuesday marked a record-high number of new cases — 4,014 — although Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said that positive count came from 29,266 tests results. That’s the most the state has ever received back in a day and could include some results from the weekend.

SHARE 144 more die in Illinois from COVID-19 as fatalities top 3,600 and state hits record for new cases
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks from his Chicago home during a virtual news briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks from his Chicago home during a virtual news briefing Tuesday afternoon.

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Another 144 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, raising the state’s death toll to 3,601.

Tuesday also marked a record-high number of new cases — 4,014 — although Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said that positive count came from 29,266 tests results. That’s the most the state has ever received back in a day. Pritzker said more than 20,000 were performed within 24 hours, marking a new record for the state in testing.

“There is a proportionality there, that as you test more, you’re going to get more positives from within those additional tests,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

The state has now seen 83,021 positive cases, as the virus remains in 98 of 102 counties. Illinois has received 471,691 total tests back since the pandemic began, health officials said.

Illinois’ positivity rate is 18% from May 2 to May 9. That metric is being looked at under a magnifying glass since Pritzker included it as one of several numbers needed under 20% in his regional reopening plan.

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The total number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units was down by 33 from Sunday to Monday. During that same timeframe, there was no change in ventilator use, although the number of total COVID-19 patients entering hospitals went up by 307, the governor’s office said.

Tuesday’s fatality count is higher than the previous two days, when the state saw fewer than 100 deaths each day. The governor’s administration released new projections a day earlier from researchers that indicate the state will see a range of 50 to 150 deaths into June or July. Northwestern University, one of three universities involved in the state’s projections, has predicted a more dire range of 50 to 300 deaths.

But Pritzker signaled some optimism on Monday in revealing three of four regions in his reopening plan are “on pace” to potentially enter a new phase of reopening when his latest stay-at-home order expires on May 29.

The governor on Tuesday said he is speaking with the governors in nearby Midwestern states, some of whom are already reopening businesses.

“We are sharing ideas and making sure that we’re following best practices. It is different from one state to another. Indiana is a different state than Illinois. We have different concerns and Michigan’s different as well,” Pritzker said. “...Each of us have different timetables. It’s again based a lot on at least or Illinois and a lot of the other states, based on health care metrics.”

Pritzker, however, said he is concerned about Illinoisans traveling to neighboring states.

“I am concerned because I think that in many ways that opening too early or the potential spread of the virus in those states will affect our metrics in Illinois,” Pritzker said. “I understand that people may cross over the border, but I think they should take into account the danger, the potential anyway, of the spread of the virus and their ability to carry that virus back over the border when they come back.”

Facing some pushback against his order extension, Pritzker said he “would consider” withholding federal aid or taking other actions like revoking liquor licenses against local leaders and businesses who disobey the directive, as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has threatened to do in that state.

“I would just suggest that there are a number of enforcement mechanisms that are available to us. And I don’t want to utilize those. I have asked people to do the right thing and I want to point out that the vast majority of people in Illinois have been doing the right thing and I’m so very proud of that,” Pritzker said, calling opponents of the stay-at-home order “outliers.”

“These people do not follow science or data. They’re just listening to partisan rhetoric perhaps and following their own instincts, but not science.”

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