4 more COVID-19 deaths in Illinois; Pritzker outlines worst-case scenarios

Joanna Estrada
March 26, 2020

An additional death of a Crystal Lake man was announced hours after Pritzker's news conference.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike urged people to continue practicing social distancing as COVID-19 is passed through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. IL now has seen 1,535 confirmed cases of the virus and 17 total deaths. "We won't fall into the trap of forgetting that these are people with families and friends who love them, and people who are anxious about them".

Pritzker once again showed his frustration over the lack of testing available - a nationwide issue - to confirm and rule out potential COVID-19 cases.

This projected surge emphasizes the urgency that brought Gov. Pritzker to take several actions to "flatten the curve" and prevent a rapid increase of cases.

The state, of course, has intervened with its "stay-at-home" order, closing of schools, bars and restaurants, and various other measures.

As of Monday, roughly 57.4% of the state's 2,594 ICU beds were in use, while 28.4% of Illinois' 2,229 ventilators were in use, according to IDPH. IEMA is working with 26 additional hospitals across the state to open new triage centers.

Worst-case scenarios - those without interventions like the governor's state-at-home mandate - indicated that without the interventions, the state would need an additional 28,000 non-ICU beds and 9,400 ICU beds within the next two weeks.

IL is one of the states with the most confirmed cases of the virus.

In the worst-case scenario, the state would earmark several dozen existing hospitals to treat nearly only COVID-19 patients, and move non-COVID patients to other hospitals, including now-closed medical centers the state might reopen, Pritzker said. "Instead what we have done already in IL is put into place a two-pronged approach to make sure a worst-case scenario doesn't become our reality".

Additionally, Pritzker said the state now is testing about 2,000 individuals a day.

The state has hustled to put restrictions in place aimed to keep people separated, which now amounts to the only real line of defense against the virus.

The Illinois National Guard's drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, located at 6959 W. Forest Preserve Road, is open daily from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. unless testing capacity is met earlier in the day.

IL is working to increase its health care capacity, Pritzker said, "so when we do arrive at that next phase we will have the capacity to meet that much greater need".

"The president is not taking into account the true damage that this will do to our country if we see truly millions of people die, and that's what I think would happen and that's what the scientists and doctors tell us would happen", Pritzker said. "We have to start to see some movement in the [COVID-19] numbers in the right direction or at least a shaping of the curve that looks like we're hitting a good spot in that curve".

"It takes all of us to counter this pandemic", Ezike said.

"What we've done already is ... to make sure a worst case scenario does not become our reality", Pritzker said.

"Now is not the time to abandon the only measures we know will help protect us", Lateef said. "We are in a city where COVID-19 is actively spreading through our neighborhoods today".

Finally, there are four commercial labs and 15 hospital labs operating across the state, which average about 1,500 tests per day.

The state put out a call this week for former members of the medical community who have changed careers to consider coming back to the medical field.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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