Illinois surpasses 1,000 coronavirus cases, including infant and 9 deaths

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, reported 296 new cases since Saturday’s briefing, bringing the statewide total to 1,049. Nine people have now died of the coronavirus in Illinois.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus situation Saturday at the Thompson Center. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus situation last week at the Thompson Center.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The tally of COVID-19 cases in Illinois surpassed 1,000 on Sunday, including an infant who recently tested positive for the virus.

Three more people have also died from the virus, and more deaths are expected, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Sunday.

Ezike reported 296 new cases since Saturday’s briefing, bringing the statewide total to 1,049. Nine people have now died of the coronavirus in Illinois.

“Unfortunately, the number of cases will continue to increase, as will the number of deaths,” Ezike said, pleading for people to follow stay-at-home guidelines and social-distancing measures. “Avoid becoming sick and infecting others.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker — having spent the morning in a contentious back-and-forth with President Donald Trump —said he refused to “spend more time on [Trump’s angry tweet] than it deserves.”

“I’m finding it hard to contain my anger with Donald Trump’s response to this national crisis,” Pritzker said, noting that “Illinoisans of all political stripes are doing their part.”

“Republicans from all over the state have reached out to ask how they can help,” Pritzker said. “Even people who have had profound political differences with me have been among the first to text or call asking to help.”

The governor doubled down on his critique that the federal government has inadequately provided state medical workers with PPE, or “Personal Protection Equipment” like masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection.

“I have doctors, nurses and first responders begging for masks, equipment and more tests,” Pritzker said. “And staff working day and night to hunt down supplies we need. Trump promised this weeks ago.”

Pritzker offered a glimpse of optimism, highlighting the many people, businesses and organizations that have volunteered time or resources to meet the state’s needs.

He thanked businesses like Koval Distillery in Ravenswood, which stopped making whiskey and gin in favor of hand sanitizer for medical workers.The company has already raised more than $17,000 to support its efforts.

As hospitals and medical centers have struggled with a depleting PPE supply, other businesses have started crafting face masks and other supplies for the state’s medical workers, Pritzker said.

He also highlighted animal shelters, which have seen an uptick in adoptions since the coronavirus crisis began, and restaurants and schools that are giving free meals to kids.

“Millions of Illinoisans rely on the kindness of each other every day,” Pritzker said. “That doesn’t need to change because you’ve been asked to stay home.”

Pritzker encouraged healthy people to find volunteer opportunities, highlighting organizations like the American Red Cross,which is working to stave off a potential blood supply shortage.

Celena Roldán, CEO of the American Red Cross of Illinois, said more than 6,000 blood drives — including 120 in Illinois — have been canceled across the country since the coronavirus pandemic began.

“This blood shortage can impact patients needing surgery, victims of car accidents or other emergencies, people with chronic conditions or cancer patients,” Roldán said.

She stressed that blood drives are still safe, and there is no evidence that respiratory viruses can be transmitted through blood donation or transfusion.

“Even in moments when you’re feeling anxiety about what’s happening, hope is all around us and can still be found in every corner of this state,” Pritzker said.

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