Pritzker urges precautions, patience and prayers as Illinois’ case tally from ‘insidious virus’ passes 200,000

The case tally has ballooned over the last month mostly due to outbreaks among young people, according to health officials. “I’m deeply concerned about the direction the numbers are going,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a visit to a mobile COVID-19 testing station on the South Side in July.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a visit to a mobile COVID-19 testing station on the South Side last month.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

More than 200,000 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 over the last five months in Illinois — about 1.6% of the state’s population — as health officials on Thursday announced the latest batch of 1,834 new coronavirus cases. 

Since early March, a total of 200,427 people have been confirmed to be carrying the virus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state has about 12.7 million residents.

Health officials also announced 24 more residents with COVID-19 have died, raising the statewide pandemic death toll to 7,696. About 95% of the state’s coronavirus patients have recovered.

A nurse takes her gloves off as she walks out of a COVID-19 patient’s room at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side in April.

A nurse takes her gloves off as she walks out of a COVID-19 patient’s room at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side in April.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

The case tally has ballooned over the last month mostly due to outbreaks among young people, according to health officials, and the “insidious virus” is still trending upward, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference in downstate Bloomington. 

After a devastating peak in mid-May, daily caseloads bottomed out at an average of about 682 per day over the last two weeks of June. The rate is more than double that figure over the last two weeks, as the state has seen about 1,681 new cases per day.

“I’m deeply concerned about the direction the numbers are going in the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said. 

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“Distancing, masking, washing your hands, just following some basic rules — we can get through this,” the Democratic governor said. “We all should pray for those who are developing those [coronavirus vaccines], and in the meantime, let’s just be kind to each other and stay healthy by following the mitigation rules.”

COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in all 102 Illinois counties, claiming the lives of patients ranging in age from infancy to over 100. An Adams County woman who lived more than 100 years was among the latest lives lost to the virus. More than 3.2 million people have been tested. 

An additional 1,300 suspected coronavirus cases aren’t counted in the state’s total because patients weren’t tested. Another 209 deaths are considered to have been probable cases as well. 

The latest cases were confirmed among 46,006 tests, lowering the statewide testing positivity rate over the last week to 4%. 

As of Wednesday night, 1,628 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 383 in intensive care units and 127 on ventilators. 

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