Illinois coronavirus cases now apparently up to 66; cases now reported in central and downstate areas

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Saturday afternoon that the number of cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Illinois was 64, and later in the day, Sangamon County officials announced two cases, bringing the apparent total to 66.

The total before Saturday's announcement was 46. Most of the cases are in Cook County. One is a woman in DuPage County in a long-term care facility.

In downstate and central Illinois, state officials said a Woodford County resident in his 70s and a Cumberland County resident in his 70s both tested positive for COVID-19.  Additionally, two St. Clair County residents have tested positive – a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 70s. 

Meanwhile, late Saturday, Sangamon County health officials said that two people in their county have also been identified as coronavirus patients, apparently pushing the total up to 66. One of the people is hospitalized in Sangamon County, and the other was tested at an outpatient facility there. It was not clear whether the two people in Sangamon were actually residents of that county, or were from another county. It was also not clear if they were already included in the state's earlier tally.

"If you are young and healthy, listen up. We need you to follow social distancing guidelines too. You can have the unintended tragic effect of spreading COVID-19 to others who may be more vulnerable," said Gov. JB Pritzker, noting there were a lot of people out and about on Saturday afternoon in Chicago.

Pritzker also said that those with more risk factors are still more likely to be tested, since tests are still in short supply.

"People whose symptoms are mild will be able to isolate at home during their illness and will be asked to do so," Pritzker.

According to data being tracked by Johns Hopkins University, there were at least 2,571 cases of coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon.

"We don't want everyone to get sick at once and overwhelm our health care system," said Illinois Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Public Health Director.

All Illinois schools, grades K-12, are closed starting Tuesday, March 17 and are set to resume March 30. This includes Chicago Public Schools.

The school cancellations are the latest blow to Chicago families, where students were kept out of classes earlier in the school year by an 11-day strike by the district’s more than 21,000 teachers. About 70% of the district’s students are eligible for meals at school based on their families’ incomes, making them particularly vulnerable to disruptions.

“The district will be providing meals to all of our students and families,” Jackson said. “All of our CPS locations will be food distribution centers beginning on Tuesday, March 17 at 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. every single day throughout the closure. Families will be able to pick up three days’ worth of food at any given time for each child that lives in their household.”