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Illinois coronavirus death toll eclipses 5,000

Health officials reported another 160 deaths, ending a four-day streak with daily counts below 100. More than 114,000 people have contracted the virus overall across the state.

Nurse Jeanette Averett comforts a COVID-19 patient last month at Roseland Community Hospital.
Nurse Jeanette Averett comforts a COVID-19 patient last month at Roseland Community Hospital.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Another 160 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, with the state’s fatalities now totaling 5,083.

Officials on Wednesday, however, said the latest deaths could include some from over the holiday weekend. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office on Tuesday warned the 39 deaths recorded then could have been lower due to a lack of reporting on Memorial Day, when many state laboratory workers were given a day off.

The high death tally comes after four consecutive days seeing fewer than 100 deaths, something that had not occurred since mid-April, when the state recorded its first 100-plus day. Wednesday also marked the 22nd day in which more than 100 deaths were reported.

There were also 1,111 new cases reported, raising the state’s total to 114,306. The state received 17,179 test results, officials said. In total, the state has performed 803,973 coronavirus tests.

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Pritzker held his press briefing in East St. Louis, where the governor planned to discuss a regional contact tracing program.

All areas of the state remain on track to see further reopenings under Pritzker’s plan come Friday. Chicago, however, will see a slower plan. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the city must be cautious, since it remains a hotspot for the virus.

But businesses across the state are already gearing back into action. Phase 3 allows a number of businesses to reopen with the use of “face coverings as the norm.” Non-essential manufacturing and non-essential businesses could get back to work with safety guidances, but telework will be “strongly” encouraged. Barber shops and salons can open, while health and fitness centers can offer outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training.

Bars and restaurants initially were held back until Phase 4, but now they’re poised to reopen for outdoor dining only, with tables spaced and no large groups allowed. Pritzker announced an easing of those restrictions last week, but again, Lightfoot has said Chicago is not yet ready for that.

All state parks will also reopen May 29. Golf courses will be allowed to host foursomes with cars limited to one person or one immediate household. Indoor and outdoor tennis facilities will be able to reopen with precautions and capacity limits in place. And up to 10 people will be allowed to boat or camp together.