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75 more Illinois coronavirus deaths; state testing tops 700K

More than half the deaths have occurred during the first three weeks of May, during what Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office has said is a plateau period for the outbreak’s impact on Illinois that could last through June.

A blood sample is taken for a coronavirus antibody test earlier this month in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights.
A blood sample is taken for a coronavirus antibody test earlier this month in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Another 75 people in Illinois have died of COVID-19, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 4,790, health officials announced Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also confirmed the latest batch of 2,352 new cases of the coronavirus among 25,114 test results received.

Since the state’s first case was reported in late January, a total of 107,796 people have tested positive for the virus while more than 722,000 people have been tested.

More than half the deaths have occurred during the first three weeks of May, during what Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office has said is a plateau period for the outbreak’s impact on Illinois that could last through June.

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The latest deaths includes a Cook County woman in her 20s and a man in his 30s, though the virus typically has posed a greater threat to older people. A Chicago Sun-Times analysis found nursing home hotspots now account for more than half the state’s COVID-19 deaths overall so far.

The virus has also devastated the state economy under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive stay-at-home order, with Illinois’ unemployment rate now topping 16% and more than 1.2 million claims for jobless benefits processed by the state.

Hundreds of thousands could return to work across the state as early as next week, though, with the stay-at-home order expiring May 29.

All four regions of the state remained on track to advance to the third phase of Pritzker’s reopening plan when the order lifts, which would allow most “nonessential” businesses to resume limited operations, including salons and bars and restaurants with outdoor seating.

That includes the Northeast region with Illinois’ coronavirus epicenter: Cook County. The region’s testing positivity rate stood at 15%, while the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate is about 13%.

Still, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said Chicago’s bars and restaurants will lag a bit behind Pritzker’s reopening plan. She said they’re on track to open in “early June” instead.

State legislators are expected to consider a COVID-19 relief package during a special session in Springfield continuing Saturday.