As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here
CHICAGO – Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed 20 new cases of the COVID-19 virus, including the first cases in central and southern Illinois, at his daily news briefing Saturday.
The total number of confirmed cases is now 66, up from 46 after Friday's news conference.
The IDPH released only limited information about the new cases. A DuPage County woman in her 60s, who resides in a currently unidentified long-term care facility, has tested positive, making it the first case in that county.
"We're identifying all close contacts to make sure that we protect the health and safety of all residents and staff at the facility," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at the news conference.
"Infection control measures are required for all nursing homes. Additional vigilance for respiratory illness should be taken, as well as increased cleaning and visitor restrictions are to be implemented. Very fortunately, at this long-term care facility, all of those measures were taken up as we recommended them on Monday."
A Woodford County resident in his 70s and a Cumberland County resident in his 70s both tested positive for COVID-19. Two St. Clair County residents also have tested positive – a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 70s. Late Saturday, public health officials announced two new positive coronavirus cases in downstate Sangamon County.
"Possible exposures and travel histories for the two [St. Clair County] individuals are still being investigated, and public health officials are working to identify and contact all individuals who are close contacts for these two cases," according to a news release.
In addition to these cases, the IDPH announced seven new cases in Chicago, as well as four in Cook, one in Kane, and one in Lake counties.
"We are seeing infection in all ages in Illinois," Ezike said. "And you're seeing the spread throughout the state. Approximately 30% of the cases in Illinois are clearly travel-associated. Another third are a contact of a known COVID case. The remaining cases may not have a clear connection and, therefore, could be the result of community spread.
"Again, most of the people are either in isolation at home or in the hospital. We've had several cases that have completely recovered and are out of isolation."
Ezike reported a "very high volume" of testing at IDPH labs. She said the IDPH processed more than 300 specimens Friday, and in total, the lab has processed about 1,600 specimens, which represents about 800 people, as most tests require two specimens.
Pritzker highlighted an increased focus on social distancing, including discussing examples of long lines of people out in public.
"We can have a massive, positive effect on bending the transmission curve, thereby saving lives, if people will take this seriously," Pritzker said.
Pritzker previously announced that all public and private schools across Illinois will be closed beginning Tuesday through March 30.
For all of Shaw Media Illinois' coverage of the COVID-19 virus, click here.
For information about the COVID-19 virus, call the IDPH hotline at 1-800-889-3931. The hotline is for general questions only, not for assessing individual symptoms.