First coronavirus death confirmed in Illinois, governor announces

Governor JB Pritzker has announced the first coronavirus death in Illinois.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at a press conference with state officials. Pritzker said it was a 61-year-old Chicago woman who had contact with a known positive case.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the woman as Patricia Frieson from the Gresham neighborhood. She died Monday night at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The medical examiner's office confirmed Thursday that Frieson died as a result of bronchopneumonia due to a COVID-19 infection with asthma, diabetes mellitus, hypertensive cardiovascular disease and obesity as contributing factors.

Her manner of death was ruled natural, the medical examiner’s office said.

Officials also announced the new state total for COVID-19 cases has climbed to 160 in 15 Illinois counties. Cases have occured in ages 9 to 91.

"I am deeply saddened by the news that we've dreaded since the earliest days of this outbreak: the first COVID-19 related death in Illinois," Governor Pritzker said in a statement. "All of Illinois stands with this patient's family and loved ones in mourning her loss and honoring her memory. May her memory be a blessing. There are going to be moments during the next few weeks and months when this burden feels like it is more than we can bear – this is one of those moments, but we will get through this together.”

MOBILE APP USERS: Watch full coronavirus press conference here

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced this past weekend the first resident at a nursing home in suburban Willowbrook tested positive for COVID-19. Following aggressive testing at the facility, IDPH has now confirmed an additional 21 cases at the facility, 17 residents and four staff.

“In addition to the death we are sad to report today, we are also reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 in a long-term care facility,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “Residents in nursing homes are our most vulnerable population and we are doing everything we can to protect them.  We may see cases in other long-term care facilities, which is why it is so important that we all do our part to reduce possible exposure in the community to those who go in and out of these facilities as they provide care to resident.”

Updated guidance for nursing homes:

-Restrict all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life residents
-Restrict all volunteers and non-essential health care personnel (e.g., barbers)
-Cancel all group activities and communal dining
-Implement active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms

Meanwhile, Chicago’s health commissioner said Tuesday that “I suspect we are going to see a lot more cases in the days to come, because we are seeing a lot more testing,” said Dr. Allison Arwady. “That is a good thing.”

Coronavirus infections across the country reached approximately 5,200, and the death toll climbed to more than 100, with more than half of the dead from Washington state. Worldwide, more than 7,300 people have died.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the virus.