Illinois officials confirm 673 new coronavirus cases, seven deaths

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(KWQC) - The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported an additional 673 cases of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, bringing the total to 2,538 in 37 counties.

"Even if you happen to live in a county that does not have a case right now, you should absolutely take precautions and follow all of the same guidance as if you knew the virus was circulating in your community, because it is,” Ngozi Ezike, the state’s public health director, said Thursday.

Seven more people have died. They include a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s.

Approximately 87 percent of the 26 deaths reported to-date are among patients 60 and older, officials said.

Franklin and Tazewell counties are now reporting cases.

On Thursday, the Rock Island County Health Department confirmed that a man in his 60s tested positive for the coronavirus and is the fourth official case in Rock Island County.

He is being treated in a local hospital. No additional information was released.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a press conference Thursday that President Donald Trump has granted his request fo for a federal major disaster declaration.

The declaration will provide emergency funding to increase hospital and housing capacity as the state responds to this “unprecedented health crisis.” It also provides resources to expand teleheath, allowing the state to safely reach more Illinoisans in need of care.

Pritzker said he also is seeking another disaster declaration for all 102 counties of Illinois to be able to access the Federal Emergency Management Agency's individual assistance program.

The program would give the state more resources, such as unemployment benefits for those not currently eligible for state unemployment benefits, enhance benefits for those seeking shelter, food, and emergency supplies, and new legal services and financial assistance to underinsured households.

"In addition to the health challenges that we're all facing, the economic toll of this virus has been difficult for most people to bear,” Pritzker said. "But we must confront that head-on as well. Since the beginning of the month, Illinois has received over 100,000 more unemployment claims than we had by this point in March of last year.”

U.S. unemployment claims this week broke the previous single-week record nearly five times over, he said.

Pritzker also announced a new initiative, the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, in collaboration with the United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations.

The fund will give additional financial resources to local community foundations, organizations and nonprofits to support residents in need of emergency food and basic supplies; interim housing and shelter; primary health care services; utility and financial assistance; supports for children and other vulnerable populations, and nonprofit safety and operations assistance.

The fund will work in tandem with other funds set up around the state ensuring that resources go where they are needed most.

Officials say nearly $23 million has already been raised.

Visit www.ilcovidresponsefund.org to learn more about the fund.