Illinois health officials report 250 new coronavirus cases, four more deaths

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(KWQC) - The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced 250 new cases of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in the state.

Four more people have died from the virus. They include a Chicago resident in his 50s, two Cook County residents in their 60s, and a DuPage County resident in her 90s.

IDPH is reporting a total of 1,535 cases in 32 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years. Sixteen people have died from the virus as of Tuesday, according to officials.

"The report for today is sobering, as it is every day,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday.

The disease, she said, has affected “every group in society.”

Cases by county can be found on the IDPH website, as well as a list of local health departments who will have the most up-to-date information.

For all personal protective equipment (PPE) donations, email PPE.donations@illinois.gov. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday emphasized the need for more testing, saying that it helps to demonstrate the actual reach of the disease and informs officials how they can potentially isolate the outbreak “even as we work to flatten the curve."

In February, Illinois was among the first states to build up its testing capacity, “and there’s still a lot more work to be done,” he said. Currently, the state’s testing capacity is up to 2,000 tests per day, Pritzker said.

On Sunday and Monday, the state began drive-thru testing at four state and federal facilities. The Illinois National Guard opened up the first entirely state-run drive-thru testing facility in northwest Chicago, Pritzker said.

Right now, the state has about 26,000 non-ICU beds of which nearly 13,000 are currently available. Pritzker said there are nearly 2,600 adult ICU beds statewide, of which about 1100 are currently available. Those numbers are fairly standard, "but we know they won’t stay that way,” he said.

The worst-case scenario, without the stay at home order and no further interventions, will lead to the need for more than 28,000 additional non-ICU beds and more than 9,000 ICU beds in the next two weeks, Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the state is working to increase its healthcare capacity to avoid that scenario. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has deployed more 49 triage tents outside hospitals to safety and efficiently evaluate potential coronavirus cases. Pritzker said 66 of the more than 200 hospitals statewide have set up triage tends with the IEMA or on their own.

IEMA is working with 26 additional hospitals to set up triage centers, he said.

The department of public health, IEMA, the national guard, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are currently in the process of investigating closed hospitals that could temporarily open to support the state’s coronavirus response.

Pritzker said the White House has said the state will receive 300 more ventilators and 300,000 N95 masks from FEMA in the coming days. He said he also is urging President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act, which gives the federal government authority to direct private companies to meet the needs of the national defense.

Pritzker over the weekend made a “call to action” to retired healthcare workers to help in the fight against the coronavirus. In just the last 24 hours, the state already has received 180 applications, he said.