Illinois COVID-19 cases now over 3,000; 8 more deaths reported
The state's grim tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,026 Friday with 34 deaths, including Lake County's first two fatalities and five more casualties of the respiratory disease in DuPage County.
Caseloads jumped by 19% from Thursday with 488 more cases diagnosed and eight deaths statewide in 24 hours, officials said at Gov. J.B. Pritzker's daily briefing.
"As we feared, the greatest hospitalization rate is among individuals older than 65," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said.
And, "86% of those who have died are over the age of 60," she said. "We must continue to do all that we can to protect older adults, our grandmothers and our grandfathers."
There have been 1,364 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago and nine deaths, and 875 cases in suburban Cook County and 11 deaths, according to state and local data. But the Cook County medical examiner's office is reporting a total of 27 deaths in the county.
And "there's a vast majority more people out there who have COVID-19 than we are currently testing," Pritzker said.
Elsewhere by county, there have been 230 cases of COVID-19 in Lake with two deaths, 199 in DuPage with six deaths, 104 cases in Will with three deaths, 75 cases in Kane with two deaths, and 45 cases in McHenry with one fatality, according to the state and local data.
Lake County's two deaths from complications of COVID-19 included a man in his 50s and a woman in her 90s, both with underlying health problems.
Lake County tallied 38 new cases since Thursday, and health workers are monitoring clusters at five long-term care facilities comprising 20 people.
"Lives are at stake and we cannot reiterate enough the importance of social distancing and workers staying home when they are ill," Lake health department Executive Director Mark Pfister said.
DuPage County Health Department officials said the six total fatalities all involved people older than age 60.
In Cook County, authorities confirmed a 64-year-old Wheeling man with COVID-19 and other medical conditions including cancer and heart disease died at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights Friday.
"Our team is deeply saddened by the patient's passing," a hospital official said.
Also, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office, a 74-year-old Elk Grove Village man died Thursday as a result of acute respiratory failure due to COVID-19 infection with heart disease as a contributing factor.
Pritzker stressed that states desperately need federal help in obtaining COVID-19 tests as well as medical equipment such as masks. He criticized President Donald Trump for doubting a request for ventilators from New York and saying on Fox News Thursday, "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000."
"To say this is counterproductive is an understatement, and frankly at worst, the comments are deadly," Pritzker said.
But on Friday Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to force General Motors to produce the devices.
"We're pleased to hear there's some movement," Pritzker said.
Asked if Illinois would extend the closure of schools past the current April 8 opening date, Pritzker said: "We evaluate this every day. We look at the trajectory of the people who test positive for the virus, the trajectory of hospitalizations, the deaths that are occurring, the ICU beds ... and we ask ourselves, 'What's the next move?' Nothing is set in stone."
Friday's caseload crosses 40 counties with Bureau, Henry and Iroquois now reporting cases.
Pritzker outlined steps to reinforce social services during the COVID-19 crisis. Food stamp aid for about 900,000 needy households is increasing by $80 million; $8 million in additional funds will help to house homeless residents with options including motels; and stipends for child care centers serving essential workers will increase.
The governor also said he is asking health care workers to sign up for an emergency alert program in case of an influx of cases.
• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.