Illinois reported 125 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours - the state's highest daily toll since the pandemic began - as fatalities associated with the virus top 1,000, officials said Thursday.
With the state preparing to enter its fourth week of a stay-at-home order, the total number of cases reached 25,733. That marks an increase of 1,140 cases from one day earlier.
"These are our family members and loved ones, neighbors and friends," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. "Today, we mourn with their communities and offer them our solace and strength in this difficult time. May their memories be for a blessing."
Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order until April 30 but Pritzker has not indicated if he will extend that date into May, as Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers did Thursday. State health officials have said data shows the curve of cases is beginning to flatten in Illinois.
Pritzker announced Thursday that he has reached a partnership with governors in six other Midwest states to coordinate on a plan for reopening the regional economy when the pandemic begins to subside. Ohio revealed plans to begin reopening as early as May 1 and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is looking to reopen in early May, but Wisconsin will remain under a stay-at-home through May 26.
Still, multiple Chicago suburbs are now requiring masks in public places like grocery stores and Pritzker has said he is "seriously considering" making it a statewide requirement.
Despite the latest rise in cases, both Illinois and Chicago officials say the data indicates the "doubling rate" citywide and statewide appears to be slowing.
"To be clear, there is nothing good about twice as many people having this virus, or worse, dying from it, no matter how long the increase takes," Pritzker said Tuesday. "But we won’t get to zero cases overnight."
More than 100,000 people have already been tested statewide for the coronavirus.
Even still, Pritzker and other officials have warned the public to continue abiding by social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.
"We're not out of the woods," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday.
"We still have a ways to go," Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Wednesday.
Officials say more than 80 of the state's 102 counties have now reported cases of the virus.
Chicago and Cook County remain the areas hardest hit by the virus.
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