Coronavirus

IDPH Director Ezike: 50% of Illinois' COVID-19 patients recover within 7 days

Members of the Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment Monday at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Chicago. About 30 members of the Guard were activated to support the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to temporarily convert part of the convention center into an Alternate Care Facility for virus patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area.
Members of the Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment Monday at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Chicago. About 30 members of the Guard were activated to support the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to temporarily convert part of the convention center into an Alternate Care Facility for virus patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area.

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About half of people in Illinois who contract COVID-19 recover within seven days, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Thursday.

“That was just seven days after the positive test,” Ezike said. “If we were to do 14 days after the diagnosis, you can imagine that those numbers will only grow.”

Although the IDPH releases data on confirmed cases, deaths and total tests every day, the state has not released information on how many patients have recovered from the virus.

Gov. JB Pritzker previously said recovery numbers are difficult to obtain because recovered patients don’t always call their doctors to report that they’ve recovered. Ezike said the 50% figure comes from IDPH surveys.

“We’ll continue to do those surveys,” Ezike said. “We’ll do that weekly and we’ll continue to report because we do need people to have that hope and know that it’s not a death sentence.”

This came as the IDPH announced 16 more deaths and 715 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. In total, 157 people in Illinois have died and 7,695 people have tested positive for the virus.

Ezike said she spoke Thursday morning with the husband and wife who were the third and fourth confirmed cases, respectively, in Illinois. The man and woman, both in their 70s, have recovered and are doing well. Ezike said the couple encouraged her to share their story to give people hope.

“She was saying, ‘Yeah, we’re doing great and we’re old. Yeah, you can share that,’” Ezike said. “That was really why I wanted to put that out there, because it is not a death sentence. We definitely mourn the loss of every single life and we’re keeping all of their family and friends in prayer.”

There was another glimmer of hope, too, out of Stateville Correctional Center – where one inmate has died and at least 36 people have tested positive. Three of the 19 people hospitalized with the virus have been released from the hospital.

“We know that most people recover and here’s another example,” Ezike said. “These were elderly people and people with multiple other medical conditions.”

The state has been releasing inmates serving short terms or members of vulnerable populations. Pritzker said the state prison system has 1,000 fewer inmates than it did on Feb. 1.

While clusters of cases continue to spread in correctional facilities and nursing homes, Ezike reported that the state is seeing clusters in “essential businesses,” which remain open during the stay-at-home order. She did not elaborate on any specifics. She did, however, say that essential businesses should be monitoring employees and checking their temperatures “daily.”

“Anybody who’s sick should be sent home and stay home,” Ezike said. “Businesses should be thoroughly cleaned each day.”

Pritzker announced a fourth alternate medical facility at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, which closed in 2019. It joins McCormick Place in Chicago, Advocate Sherman in Elgin and MetroSouth Health Center in Blue Island. Pritzker said there are plans in place for a yet unannounced location in central Illinois.

McCormick Place’s first 500 hospital beds will be up and running Friday, with a total capacity of 3,000 beds ready by the end of the month. Advocate Sherman and MetroSouth will combine for 500 additional beds.

“It is going to be completed, and it’s amazing to me,” Pritzker said of McCormick Place. “I didn’t know you could build something like that in five days.”

According to the IDPH, the state has now tested 43,656 people. Chicago has 3,279 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while the rest of Cook County has 2,296 cases.

Lake County has 540, DuPage 448, Will 384, Kane 154, McHenry 81, Kendall 36, DeKalb 16, La Salle and Whiteside six, Grundy five, Carroll four, Bureau two and Ogle one.

Among the new deaths are a DuPage County woman in her 80s, a McHenry County man in his 60s and a Whiteside County woman in her 90s. Twelve deaths occurred in Cook County.

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