Illinois reports 2,049 COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours as testing expands across state

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CHICAGO -- Illinois health officials on Wednesday announced 2,049 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the state’s case total to 35,108.

There are also another 98 deaths from the disease in Illinois in the last 24 hours, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state’s death toll is now 1,565 people.

The virus has been reported in 96 of the state's 102 counties. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.

Of the 98 new deaths announced Wednesday, the youngest victim is a woman in her 30s, while the oldest is a person in their 90s, IDPH said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday said she expects Illinois' stay-at-home order to be extended into May, maybe even June.

"April 30th is no longer, I think, a viable date," Lightfoot said during a conference call with local reporters. "I would expect an extension of the stay-at-home order and the other orders that were put in place as a result of the response to COVID-19 to go through sometime in May. It certainly could go into June."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said the state wouldn’t hit its highest level of COVID-19 cases until mid-May, weeks after originally projected, throwing into question whether the Democrat will extend his stay-at-home order past April 30.

Pritzker wouldn’t discuss the data he’s using in adjusting the projected peak date, which had been predicted for the latter part of this month. But he said people are abiding by social-distancing rules, slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

“We will be making some changes to the stay-at-home order as it is, but it is true that it is working, so to ... remove it entirely is to simply open everything back up to infection,” Pritzker said.

The governor says that across the state, there are signs of hope in the daily acts of caring.

"Those signs are all around us. Look at the creativity that people have brought to make sure that people who are in need are truly cared for," Pritzker said over the weekend, mentioning people delivering activity care packages, doing musical performances and sewing masks.

"That's the thing about Illinois. Everywhere you look there are people stepping in to fill the gaps in other people's lives," he added.

Governor Pritzker says the state has set up a way to get in touch with a mental health professional if the COVID-19 pandemic is causing you anxiety. Just text "TALK" (or "HABLAR" for Spanish assistance) to 552020. You can also text the words "UNEMPLOYMENT," "FOOD" or SHELTER" to the same number for assistance.

The state is also launching a remote care program for COVID-19 patients whose symptoms are not severe. Healthcare workers will connect digitally with patients on a daily basis. And, depending on the severity of the situation, the state might provide kits with blood pressure cuffs and thermometers.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.