SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois reported a one-day record high in COVID-19 cases Tuesday and its next-to-highest death toll, just a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the peak in coronavirus infections originally projected for late April has been pushed into mid-June.
The governor noted that the 4,014 new cases reported – nearly 900 more than the previous high on May 1 – should come as no surprise given that the state received test results on more than 29,000 people in 24 hours, which is thousands more than in previous days. Testing availability, which continues to grow in Illinois, is key to tracking the disease and resuming a sidelined economy.
The Democrat, under continued pressure to reopen the doors of commerce that have been shuttered to dissuade transmission of the coronavirus, finally broached the subject of action by the General Assembly. He called on lawmakers – who have been kept from the Capitol by coronavirus restrictions since early March – to act “expeditiously” to put together a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and compile aid packages for those struggling financially.
“It’s a common concern for us to make sure that we’re addressing the needs of families and small businesses,” Pritzker said. “And I would just add that the size of the package will be significantly dependent upon whether or not we are able to get relief from the federal government for the lost revenues.”
Already hounded by tens of billions of dollars in overdue bills and pension obligations, the pandemic stripped Illinois of sales and income tax and other expected revenue, causing a projected deficit of $7 billion in the next two years, Pritzker said last month. But he stopped short of saying he would call the Legislature into special session, preferring instead to encourage legislative leaders to call their members to Springfield. Democrats who control the House and Senate have been conducting business in “working groups” to craft a budget and handle other key issues.
The number of people who have tested positive in Illinois now stands at 83,021, and there have been 3,601 deaths related to COVID-19. The death toll of 144 reported Tuesday was second only to the 176 deaths reported May 5.
Pritzker maintains that his stay-at-home order and social-distancing practices have slowed the spread of the disease, saving the health care infrastructure from being overwhelmed with a peak in cases at first pegged for late April. The peak now won’t come until next month, making it easier to provide care for fewer people who become sick at the same time.
He remained optimistic that by the May 30 end of his current stay-at-home order, much of the state will be able to move into the third phase of his five-stage reopening plan, which allows for manufacturing to start up, offices and hair salons to open with limits on capacity, and some small gatherings. It’s not fast enough for some, the latest being mayors of border cities who are concerned that neighboring states are opening sooner, according to The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan.
“I understand that people may cross over the border,” Pritzker said. “But I think they should take into account the … spread of the virus and their ability to carry that virus back over the border, and they come back, bringing it to their family and their community.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or modest symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The state public health director, Dr. Ngoze Ezike, acknowledged skepticism about the numbers. Some people are claiming they’re inflated, some that they’re under-reported. She said the Illinois Department of Public Health is attributing deaths to the coronavirus only when a laboratory test is positive.
Deaths from COVID-19 before the pandemic spread were likely under-reported, Ezike said. IDPH has been careful to separate cases where a person tested positive for COVID-19 but the cause of death was unrelated, she said.
Check out more of the AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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