SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois health officials urged residents Wednesday to stay home and strictly limit travel and social gatherings over the next three weeks, after the state recorded its sixth-deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic and a new high for hospitalizations.
The 145 fatalities from COVID-19, the illness caused by the highly contagious virus are the highest one-day total since May 27. Among the deaths was a seventh resident of the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle, where nearly 150 residents and staff members have tested positive.
“I want to remind everybody how deadly this virus is,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “It hasn’t abated. It hasn’t changed. It’s out there.”
The 5,042 hospital patients is also a record mark, topping the number reached in late April, after officials scrambled to construct a mobile field hospital at the monstrous McCormick Place Convention Center and rehabilitated sections of in several Chicago-area hospitals for fear of running out of traditional beds.
The 12,657 new infections reported was also another single-day record, bringing total cases to 523,840. The illness has contributed to 10,434 deaths.
Restrictions on social interaction are in place in each of the state’s 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions, with a second stage of even tighter “resurgence mitigations” affecting Region 1 in northwestern Illinois and suburban Chicago counties making up regions 7 and 8.
But the state health department made a plea for even more precautions that amount to a voluntary stay-at-home order: Work from home, leave the house only for the doctor, groceries, or other necessities, and don’t travel, even if it means forgoing holiday family gatherings.
“In our current situation, with a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous,” the agency said in a statement. “Please, travel only if necessary.”
With the pandemic hitting the state hard last spring, Pritzker mandated such restrictions on movement from mid-March through May. Since last week, he has suggested the requirement could return, but hasn’t specified a timeline.
He has criticized mayors and other local officials who are refusing to abide by resurgence mitigations in place, which hit bars and restaurants particularly hard, because indoor service is halted.
In Springfield, for example, the city council adopted an ordinance that fines people for not wearing face coverings to prevent transmission when in public, but the mayor and county officials also softened the rules by not shutting down indoor service, but further restricting capacity.
“Local governments though, right now, if they are not imposing new mitigations and enforcing the ones that are already in place, they’re doing it wrong,” Pritzker said.
Associated Press writer Herbert G. McCann contributed from Chicago.
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