COPING WITH COVID 19

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 974 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 22 additional deaths.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 121,234 cases, including 5,412 deaths, in 101 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. 

On Friday, all regions in the state of Illinois moved into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. This allows many businesses and organizations to reopen with certain restrictions still in place.

>>Pritzker to end daily COVID-19 briefings

Pritzker said Friday marked the end of the stay-at-home order and the start of a new executive order called the Community Recovery Order.

He also extended the ban on residential evictions, utility shut offs, and suspension of vehicle repossessions.

Pritzker said guidance was given to youth camps and sports on how to restart.

Later Thursday, recommendations for houses of worship were released. These will be guidelines, not mandatory restrictions, Pritzker said. Pritzker said the safest options remain drive-in services, but IDPH will offer guidelines for those churches that want to resume in house worship. However, those recommendations will include having ten people or less gathered indoors.

All of the 5,500 childcare providers who are not currently operating are being asked to reopen when the state enters Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan.

For the first four weeks that they are open, providers will be able to serve no more than ten children per classroom.

Once they have provided care safely for four weeks, they will be able to expand to larger group sizes, but not full capacity.

Licensed home daycares will be able to operate at their standard capacity.

Pritzker said children over the age of 2 should still wear face coverings while at day cares as long as they are medically able to. Children under 2 should not wear face masks.

On Thursday the state received $1.3 million more to help victims of domestic violence in the state. This is in addition to the more than $1 million had already been received.

Pritzker said Wednesday that he would withdraw his rule that made defying the stay at home order a misdemeanor for businesses that tried to open before his phased plan allows.

Prtizker said he is pursuing legislation instead of the emergency rule.

>>Pritzker withdraws rule imposing misdemeanor on businesses defying stay-at-home order

He also announced restaurants and bars can reopen for outdoor dining as long as tables are 6 feet apart from each other when regions in the state enter Phase 3 at the end of May. 

All state parks will reopen on May 29.

Groups of up to ten will be able to go boating or camping together, and golf groups of up to four will be allowed. One person or one immediate household per car will be allowed.

Hair salons and nail salons will be allowed to reopen with safety precautions taken.

One on one personal training can be done indoors at fitness clubs and gyms. Outdoor classes of up to 10 people can be held.

All retail stores can choose to reopen for in-person shopping.

On Tuesday, Pritzker said Illinois has overtaken New York to be the number one state in the country for conducting COVID-19 testing per capita.

On Monday Pritzker announced the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative, a locally-driven approach to scale up contact tracing in Illinois. 

Illinois will be implementing a project management and comprehension tool to collect and hold all raw information relating to contact tracing for COVID-19 and providing "forward-facing relationship management software for deployment throughout the state."

The software will let all local health departments to work on one platform and allow IDPH to operate with an aggregated, real-time sense of where COVID-19 is in Illinois.

There will also be an app associated with the disease reporting software that will be available to those who test positive for COVID-19.

>>READ MORE: Gov. Pritzker announces contact tracing pilot program

Health officials said Friday it is important all pregnant women be tested for COVID-19 when they are admitted to the hospital for delivery. They said many of the symptoms of labor can mimic or cover up symptoms of COVID-19. Also, many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

Hospitals in Illinois that have already implemented universal screening of woman admitted for labor show a positivity rate anywhere between 3 percent to 12 percent. 

They said early data is showing woman who have COVID-19 may be at further risk after they deliver from complications.

Governor JB Pritzker stressed the importance of testing Friday. He said the state has tested about 4.7 percent of Illinois' population. "We won't stop growing our testing until this pandemic is over," he said.

Pritzker announced Thursday that every region in Illinois is currently on track to move into Phase 3 of the reopening plan on May 29. He said that could change.

He also announced a new drive-thru testing site will open in Champaign next week. It will be at Market Place Shopping Ctr, 2000 N. Neil St.

>>Pritzker announces initiative to get people back to work

To see hospital utilization rates, click here.

>>Pritzker: 'There will be consequences,' for businesses that defy public health orders

Officials said Tuesday they are working to evaluate all COVID-19 related deaths to ensure the cause of death was COVID-19 and not a different condition or injury. That will be considered when reporting the number of deaths.

>>Why and how COVID-19 deaths are tracked in Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker said Tuesday the legislature needs to meet to come up with a comprehensive plan to help businesses and individuals suffering from COVID-19 related financial losses.

>>Gov. Pritzker announces grants to help infrastructure projects

Regarding recovering rates:

  • Those less than 2 weeks out of testing positive: 49 percent report they no longer feel symptoms
  • Those between 2 and 4 weeks out of testing positive: 61 percent report feeling recovered
  • Those more than 4 weeks out of testing positive: 74 percent report being recovered

On Monday, Illinois health officials announced 140 cases of the medication Remdesivir were sent to 14 hospitals across the state. Each case contains enough to treat about five patients. 

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug that has shown promising results in treating COVID-19. Officials said those with the virus have exhibited quicker recovery times after receiving the medication in testing.

As of Friday there are 244 public testing sites. Governor JB Pritzker said they made it a priority to work with trusted health care providers in the community. The sites included seven statewide sites. Each site is taking over 3,000 tests a day on average. Three new sites will open next week. 

Pritzker said the Friday before Mothers day is usually an important recognition of Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. The day is a nod to child care givers who are often under recognized. Pritzker said on this provider appreciation day, I want to sent my deepest thanks to those who are open to help those essential workers with child care. 

Gov. Pritzker announced Thursday a new call center to process unemployment applications is up and running and 100 new agents will be working by Monday. The plan is to scale that up again with an additional 100 agents taking calls.

Pritzker said all of the agents who are being hired are from Illinois.

IDES computer systems have been improved to handle online unemployment filing. Load times for web pages now average less than one second, the governor said.

He said the majority of people filing receive their first payment within two weeks of being approved.

Under the new Pandemic Employment Assistance or PUA program, claimants can receive up to 39 weeks of benefits backdated to the first week of unemployment.

>>PUA claims top 50,000 in 3 days

Unemployed individuals who qualify can begin the filing process immediately. The federal government requires workers who believe they may be eligible for the PUA program to first apply for regular unemployment insurance, likely getting denied, before applying for benefits under PUA.

The denial for regular unemployment insurance is a mandatory first step in determining PUA eligibility.

Pritzker announced his "framework for moving forward" which he called Restore Illinois. He called it a public health plan to safely reintroduce "parts of our lives that have been put on hold with COVID-19."

"Science and data are our over-arching guard rails for how we move forward," he said.

"Many members of the General Assembly proposed a regional approach to reopening," Pritzker said.

The five-phase plan breaks Illinois into four regions. It is guided by public health metrics to provide  a framework for reopening businesses, education, and recreational activities in each phase.

Pritzker said we are currently in Phase 2. May 1 marked the start of Phase 2. May 29 is the earliest a region may move to Phase 3, because the Stay At Home order is in place through May 30.

To read all about these phases, click the link below.

>>Gov. Pritzker releases 5-phase plan to reopen Illinois

For regions to move into the different phases:

  • A region must be at or under a 20 percent positive testing rate
  • A regional must be increasing by no more than 10 percentage points over a 14 day period
  • A region must not have had an overall increase or must have maintained overall stability in hospital admissions
  • A region must maintain the accessibility of a surge threshold of 14 percent availability of ICU beds, of medical and surgery beds, and ventilators

Pritzker said large venue concerts and festivals will not be able to resume until regions meet Phase 5.

On Wednesday, Pritzker said employees can report employers that are not following CDC and state guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For public employees like those working for state and local governments, public works departments, police and fire departments, complaings should be submitted to the Illinois OSHA through the Illinois Department of Labor.

For private sector employees, direct complaints should be made to federal OSHA.

Both of those reporting mechanisms can be found on the Illinois Department of Labor's website.

Gov. Pritzker said 20 million pieces of Personal Protection Equipment have been sent out throughout the state so far during the COVID-19 crisis.

Still, he said, more is still needed. A critical needs request has been sent to FEMA for 900,000 gowns.

Governor Pritzker pushed the importance of testing and announced Thursday that the White House has promised Illinois 605,000 individual swabs and 465,000 vials of ETM that will be delivered in the first week of May.

The number of public testing sites has been increased to 177, and two additional state-run drive-thru testing sites have been added.

Testing site locations include:

  • 19 in Rockford region
  • 9 in Peoria region
  • 8 in Springfield region
  • 5 in Edwardsville region
  • 33 in Marion region
  • 10 in Champaign region
  • 41 in Chicago
  • 22 in the southwest suburbs
  • 8 in the west suburbs
  • 11 in the northwest suburbs
  • 11 in the north suburbs

Pritzker announced IDPH deployed ten teams of 50 nurses to long-term care facilities across the state. Over the coming days, an additional team of 200 IDPH nurses will join the ranks to deploy to nursing homes throughout Illinois.

"They'll be focused on three tasks: conducting swab testing, training existing staff to take samples themselves, and reviewing and improving the facility's hygiene practices and PPE use," Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the state is ramping up testing of residents and staff at facilities with or without COVID-19 cases.

"We are working to test all residents and all staff for free at facilities without known COVID-19 outbreaks," Pritzker said. "And at facilities with known cases, we are ensuring that all employees can be tested for free."

Pritzker also announced the hiring process for long-term care facilities has been simplified to help them bring on additional part-time help as needed.

The CDC announced a new list of possible symptoms of COVID-19.

Previous symptoms included fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The CDC added these six additional symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Governor JB Pritzker also announced the Stay At Home Order that was initially set to expire April 30 will be extended through the end of May.

>>Pritzker extends stay-at-home order through May 30, with changes

"If we lifted the Stay At Home order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May," Pritzker said. "That would last well into the summer... the numbers present us with only one choice."

The executive order included some modifications to the previous order that went into effect on May 1.

These include mandating face coverings be worn in public when 6-ft social distancing is difficult (including children over the age of 2), allowing greeneries and nurseries to re-open, allowing for some elective surgeries to start again, and letting retail shops that were previously deemed non-essential to open back up for curb-side pickup orders.

Animal grooming will be allowed again.

State parks will begin a phased re-opening. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be allowed.

Golf will be permitted as long as social distancing is followed.

The governor said if officials see people violating these conditions and large crowds gathering, he will need to bring back the restrictions.

"I see your pain, and I am so, so very sorry for it," Pritzker said. "But for every person who wants to go to dinner or hang out with friends or swing open their salon doors, there is a family mourning the death of someone they love. There is a parent, a child, a friend who would give anything to have their greatest strain be the difficulties of staying home and not the unimaginable pain of a life lost too soon."

He added, "I will fight like hell for you. I am asking you to hold on for just a little while longer to make sure we all see through to the other side of this struggle."

Pritzker said Friday local mayors do have the ability to impose even more stringent restrictions if they feel that is necessary to protect their communities.

Pritzker also said the virus peak for Illinois that was initially thought to be in mid-April may actually not hit until late April to early May.

"The peak is still yet to come. We need to be careful," he said.

>>Pritzker: Illinois could see coronavirus peak in mid-May

Researchers said Thursday the warmer summer months could help the pandemic start to die out. However, they stressed much is still unknown about the virus, and these are just theories at this time.

The governor spoke Monday about the dangers of COVID-19 breakouts in nursing homes and long term care facilities. He said if one person tests positive in a facility, the entire staff must wear personal protective equipment. All residents should also wear masks. He said everyone is treated as if they were exposed at that point.

Pritzker said it is important facilities reach out to their local health departments to get PPE if they do not already have it.

Counties with positive COVID-19 cases include Alexander, Boone, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, DeWitt, Douglas, DuPage, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jersey, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Lee, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, McHenry, McLean, Mercer, Monroe, Moultrie, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Shelby, Stark, St. Clair, Tazwell, Union, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, and Woodford.

>>Central Illinois counties reporting cases of COVID-19

Governor Pritzker spoke about the financial impact of COVID-19 on the state of Illinois. "The virus is going to hit our budget hard... The bottom line is this. Experts predict that Illinois will have a $2.7 billion shortfall for this fiscal year and a $4.6 billion shortfall for next fiscal year."

"This is a public health crisis, but it is accompanied by massive economic disruption that is unprecedented in modern history," the governor continued.

Goveror Pritzker presented a 2021 fiscal year budget proposal last February. He said the proposal was for a balanced budget.

He said his goal was to put Illinois on a path to financial stability. "That path has fundamentally diminished to the narrowest of paths," he said. 

There is a 7 percent drop in state source revenue. $1 billion of the decline is due to the 3 month extension for filing income taxes.

The governor said he is working to leverage over $700 million in other state funds to support the operations of state government and issue up to $1.2 billion in short-term borrowing.

Pritzker said the total budgetary gap for Illinois for fiscal year 2021 is $6.2 billion.

He acknowledged that "extraordinarily difficult" decisions will have to be made when it comes to the budget.

Governor Pritkzer said, "There is no one who wants this state to open up more than I do. I want kids to go back to school, and I want parents to go back to work. I want families to enjoy our parks and lake fronts. I want small businesses thriving, restaurants flooded with reservations, job growth to return to their record highs. But no matter what the President may say, I will do what's best to guard the health and safety of Illinois' residents. That means test, trace, and treat."

About 20 to 21 percent of the people being tested in Illinois for COVID-19 test positive, the Governor said. 80 percent of people who test positive recover without further care. About 19 percent require hospitalization, and about 0.7 to 1 percent pass away from the virus.

Pritzker also addressed the upcoming November election, saying things may not be "back to normal by then," because there may not be a vaccine for COVID-19 available. He said he is pushing for more mail ballots to be used.

Also on Tuesday, Pritzker announced he is suspending laws that permit the service of a garnishment summons, wage deduction summons, or a citation to discover assets as part of consumer debt collection proceedings.

This protects the use of the stimulus money for food, shelter, and transportation as it was intended.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation also issued Best Practices to Illinois licensed lenders encouraging them to work with struggling borrowers during the pandemic to extend the time for payment, waive late charges, and defer collection measures.

>>Pritzker: Large summer events might have to be canceled

>>Public reminded to take social distancing seriously

The majority of people diagnosed with COVID-19 do recover. Officials report 50 percent of those diagnosed were recovered within seven days of testing positive in Illinois. Even more recover within two weeks, although officials did not release that percentage.

The number of COVID-19 cases by zip code will now be available by clicking HERE. Zip codes with five or less cases will not be shown to protect the privacy of patients.

>>Illinois unemployment rate increases 950% following closer of bars, restaurants

>>How to get unemployment benefits during COVID-19 outbreak

Officials said the economic impact of COVID-19 on hotels is already worse than the 2008 recession and 9/11 terrorist attacks combined.

Nearly 20,000 hotel rooms state-wide have been offered up as temporary housing for first responders, health care workers, and those in need of being isolated.

Pritzker said letters have been sent to the National Credit Bureaus asking them not to let consequences of the coronavirus outbreak negatively impact the credit rating of Illinoisans.

The closure of in-person learning at schools has been expanded through the rest of the school year.

Bars and restaurants are closed, but drive thru, delivery, and curb side pickup is allowed.

>>List of Businesses Open During the Coronavirus

Interstates, highways, roads, and tolls will remain open.

Pritzker said he made the decision after consulting with numerous medical and health experts to understand the progression of COVID-19, and determined that to avoid rapid spread of the virus in Illinois that has occurred in other countries, drastic action must be taken to contain it.

"I don't come to this decision easily," Pritzker said. "I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people's lives and saving people's livelihoods. But ultimately, you can't have a livelihood if you don't have your life."

Illinois health officials said they expect the number of confirmed cases to grow as more patients are able to be tested.

Governor JB Pritzker said he is working on having more protective masks manufactured in Illinois.

Pritzker said he asked the federal government for masks, surgical gowns, face shields, and supplies, but has only received a fraction of what was requested. The state was not sent any respirators.

Pritzker is asking the owners of businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors, and others that are closed during the crisis to consider donating face masks.

For donations, email PPE.donations@illinois.gov.

There are cases in all 50 states.

"To maximize the state’s availability of PPE, IDPH released guidance to limit non-essential adult elective surgery and medical and surgical procedures, including all dental procedures, until further notice. IDPH is now encouraging surgery centers, veterinarians, and anyone with unused PPE that is not immediately needed to donate it to assist health care providers, health care facilities, and first responders who are on the front line actively responding to COVID-19," the governor said.

Most cases of COVID-19 have been mild, but people including the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are considered most at risk. However, cases reported in Illinois have included all age ranges.

People are being asked to follow social distancing measures, including working from home when possible, limiting the amount of time spent in the community and avoiding public transportation.

The number of cases with no clear connection to travel or a known positive COVID-19 case is rising, IDPH officials said. 

Click here to learn more about how people, their school, workplace and community can prepare for COVID-19.

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