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Illinois tops 3K coronavirus deaths, 70K cases; peak could last ‘awhile,’ officials say

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration on Thursday warned the state is in a death plateau that could last “awhile.” A Pritzker spokeswoman did not provide further details on just how long that could last.

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks at an April 13 news briefing.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks at an April 13 news briefing.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Another 138 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, with total fatalities in the state now standing at 3,111.

And Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration on Thursday warned the state is in a death plateau that could last “awhile.”

Projections released by the governor’s office two weeks ago showed a range of 50 to 150 deaths a day into “early May.” During his 60th daily briefing, Pritzker said he was unsure of how long the state would be in a death plateau, or a leveling. The goal, of course, is to bend the curve downwards instead of remaining level.

“I don’t know,” Pritzker said when asked how long the plateau might last. “I certainly am concerned that we’re going to be on a plateau for a long period of time... I think I have said many times from this podium though that we don’t know. You don’t know until you see it in the rearview mirror whether you peaked. And so we could plateau and then go up again.”

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The state has seen 12 days in which more than 100 people died from COVID-19, mostly in the last few weeks.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health, said the virus’ spread varies by region. In some areas, the cases are increasing slowly. In others, it has been flat.

“It’s not uniform across the state and we understand that. And so that’s why we’re looking very closely, every day, multiple times a day just to figure out where we’re and figure out who’s going up in what dimension, who’s going down in the other dimension at what rate,” Ezike said.

Ezike said Illinoisans should send their “frustration” toward the deadly virus.

“Everybody wants us to get back to normal. We want to get back to normal. I think we are sending some of the frustration towards the wrong entities. You should be sending it towards the virus,” Ezike said. “And then we should all see how we can support ways to find cures. If people have had the virus and want to try to donate antibodies, try to donate their plasma. We can see if there’s a potential cure there. We’re hoping that scientists can come up with a pharmacological cure. So that’s where we’re trying to go.”

The state also reported 2,641 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to 70,873. The state received 17,783 test results on Wednesday and has administered more than 379,000 tests since the pandemic began.

The state is at a 14.85% positivity rate of tests returned.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU went up by 22 from Tuesday to Wednesday, while ventilator use by coronavirus patients declined by 14. The number of COVID-19 patients in total went up by 30 in that same timeframe, according to the governor’s office.

In Chicago, there were 17% of ICU beds still available. In Chicago, Cook and the collar counties, the positivity rate is hovering around 20%,