Fears and frustration as Illinois sees deadliest COVID-19 day yet: ‘This is a real disease. This is a serious disease. It’s not a hoax’

“One-hundred-ninety-two Illinoisans have lost their lives to this virus in the past 24 hours. 192. How is that not real to you?” Pritzker asked elected officials — and business owners — objecting to his stay-at-home order extension.

SHARE Fears and frustration as Illinois sees deadliest COVID-19 day yet: ‘This is a real disease. This is a serious disease. It’s not a hoax’
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a news briefing from his home in May of 2020 after a member of his senior staff has tested positive for COVID-19.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a news briefing from his home Wednesday.

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Illinois saw its deadliest day yet from COVID-19, with another 192 Illinoisans losing their lives, officials said Wednesday.

It marks the highest death toll in a 24-hour period since the virus began its spread. And the dire numbers prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his public health chief to offer some of their strongest words about the virus that has so far claimed 3,792 lives in Illinois.

“They’re not just numbers and statistics,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Public Health Department. “These are real people. and there are families and loved ones who are suffering with each of them, whether in their illness or in their unfortunate passing.”

The governor questioned how anyone could read those numbers any other way.

“One-hundred-ninety-two Illinoisans have lost their lives to this virus in the past 24 hours. 192. How is that not real to you?” Pritzker said to elected officials — and business owners — objecting to his stay-at-home order extension. “More people will get sick and admitted to the hospital and die if we don’t stay the course and follow the guidance the experts have provided.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 1,677 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 84,698. The state received 17,668 test results and has performed 489,359 total tests.

Wednesday also marked the 16th day with more than 100 lives lost, and resumed an especially deadly period for the virus in Illinois, bringing the number dead this month alone to 1,459.

The governor’s administration released new projections on Monday from researchers that indicate the state will see a range of 50 to 150 deaths a day into June or July. Northwestern University, one of three universities involved in the state’s projections, has predicted a more dire daily range of 50 to 300 deaths.

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Ezike called on Illinoisans to be patient and keep following the guidelines, whether they know someone afflicted with the disease or not.

“This is a real disease. This is a serious disease. It’s not a hoax.

“And people need to take it very seriously. Please continue to stay home. Please maintain physical separation or social distancing. Please wear your masks.

“Please help us decrease the spread of this virus. And please help us save lives.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Public Health Department, during a briefing in May.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Public Health Department, during Wednesday’s briefing.

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Pritzker’s administration has said the deaths are a lagging indicator of the virus’ spread and are difficult to predict since the virus may affect people differently. Ezike last week said 90% of the fatalities in Illinois have been people with other chronic conditions including heart disease and diabetes. But the fact that Illinoisans are largely abiding by the stay-at-home order extension, and there are still a large number of fatalities is frustrating the many people stuck working at home, or worse, unemployed during the pandemic.

“Folks, I know this is hard. I know that people are hurting,” Pritzker said during his briefing. “This virus has taken many lives and destroyed many livelihoods. COVID-19 has turned our world upside down and stolen our sense of normalcy and stability. I want this to end as much as you do.”

The governor also on Wednesday said all residents and staff at the state’s four veterans homes have been tested for COVID-19. Pritzker said a coronavirus patient at the home in Manteno died. At Anna Veterans’ Home there have been five positive cases; in Manteno, 30 residents and 19 employees who tested positive. At the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, there has been one positive case. None have been reported at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.

At the state’s nursing homes, the public health department is testing all residents and staffers, even without known outbreaks. Tests are also being provided for all employees with known cases. So far, there have been 30,000 tests provided to 129 facilities.

The state as of Friday had lost 1,553nursing home residents to COVID-19. The public health department has been updating those figures once a week.

Pritzker this week has been delivering his daily briefing from his home office after a senior staffer tested positive for the coronavirus. The governor said he himself has tested negative twice for coronavirus.

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