Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.
Illinois voters headed out to the polls for Election Day as the state battles a second surge of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Chicago officials reveal they broke up several large parties violating the city's gathering limitations, some by the hundreds.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Nov. 4):
Coronavirus by the Numbers: Illinois Continues Setting New Records as Cases Surge
On Wednesday, the state of Illinois reported its second-highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, with 7,538 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.
That number is just the latest in a string of staggering statistics coming in from around the state, as health officials deal with a new surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Here are the latest facts and figures from around the state as Illinois continues to see an explosion in new cases.
-The 7,538 new cases reported Wednesday in Illinois are the second-most reported in a single day during the pandemic. The current record for cases in a day was set on Saturday, when Illinois reported 7,899 new cases of the virus.
-Illinois has now reported at least 6,000 new coronavirus cases on each of the last eight days. Prior to this recent surge in cases, Illinois had topped 6,000 new cases in a day just once during the pandemic.
-Illinois is reporting more new cases than any other state in the nation, with 48,461 new cases of the virus in the last seven days. Texas, Wisconsin and California are also in the top five, according to data compiled by the NBC 5 Investigates team.
-The state is also reporting 54.6 new cases every day per 100,000 residents. For context, the city of Chicago requires visitors from other states to quarantine for two weeks if they’re coming from an area that is averaging 15 new cases per day per 100,000 residents.
Illinois' Top Doctor Asks Poll Workers, Voters Get Tested for COVID-19
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike suggested Wednesday that poll workers, voters and others who participated in the election throughout the state be tested for the coronavirus.
"I’d also like to encourage people who recently participated in recent campaign rallies, worked in polling places, stood in line to vote where they couldn’t maintain social distance, participated in any protests, or any other recent events: please get tested," Ezike said. "Wait approximately one week after the high risk exposure."
If people in Illinois believe they have been exposed to the virus, Ezike asked that they quarantine from others before being tested as the state is already into the second wave of the pandemic with cases increasing daily.
She asked that even people who test negative for COVID-19 following a week of exposure to "be careful" as many develop symptoms up to two weeks after encountering the virus.
Illinois' average number of deaths per day and hospitalizations have roughly doubled in the last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
During his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Pritzker said numbers for hospitalizations and positivity rates continue to rise across the state's 11 regions, which are now all under heightened mitigations amid what's been called a "second surge" of the virus.
"The virus is spreading, and every region of the state is suffering from its insidious, invisible contagion," Pritzker said. "Make no mistake: this pandemic isn't over, not by a long shot."
Illinois Reports 6,516 New Coronavirus Cases, 68 Deaths as Positivity Rate Continues to Rise
Illinois saw another increase in its seven-day positivity rate, as the state reported 6,516 new cases of coronavirus and 68 deaths within the last 24 hours.
The new cases lifted Illinois' rolling seven-day positivity rate rise from 8.1% to 8.2%, the highest mark the state has seen since late May when the state was on its way down from its first coronavirus cases peak.
In all, 430,018 cases of the virus have been reported statewide since the pandemic began.
According to officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state also reported 68 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 9,878 deaths related to the virus.
The state says 82,435 test results have been returned to state labs in the last 24 hours, with 7,958,856 total tests performed during the pandemic.
Along with the increases in cases and positivity rates, the state has also seen a continued rise in hospitalizations due to the virus. According to IDPH data, 3,594 residents are currently hospitalized because of the virus, the highest number in that category since May 30. Of those patients, 755 are currently in intensive care units and 326 are on ventilators.
Chicago Travel Order Will Be Updated Later This Week Due to Election: City Spokesperson
Chicago's travel order is not expected to be updated as scheduled Tuesday due to Election Day.
According to a spokesperson for the mayor's office, the travel order will instead "be updated later in the week."
Masks, Sanitizer on Hand as Polls Open in Illinois for Election Day
Election Day has arrived and that means voters are heading to the polls to cast their ballots in a polarized election in the midst of a pandemic.
Cities across Illinois have been preparing for potential unrest no matter the outcomes, with the National Guard readied, businesses boarded up and police patrols heightened.
Masks, hand sanitizers and plexiglass become as commonplace as pens and "I voted" stickers as Illinois voters battle a second surge of the coronavirus pandemic.
Click here for live Election Day updates in Illinois.
Data: Illinois Reports More Coronavirus Cases Than Any Other State in U.S. Over Last 7 Days
Illinois has seen a large surge in coronavirus in recent days, and the state has reported more new cases over the last seven days than any other state in the country, according to data tabulated by NBC 5 Investigates.
According to that data, Illinois has confirmed 44,517 new cases of the virus, averaging 6,360 new cases of the virus every single day. Just one week ago, the state was averaging 4,546 cases a day.
Illinois is narrowly edging out Texas in terms of new cases, with Wisconsin in third, California in fourth and Florida in fifth, according to NBC 5 Investigates.
According to data, Illinois is adding 50.2 new cases of the virus per 100,000 people every day.
While the state has dramatically increased its testing, with more than one million new coronavirus tests performed in the last 14 days, that’s not the sole reason that documented cases have surged. Currently the state’s seven-day positivity rate stands at 8.1%, more than double what that rate was at the beginning of October.
That positivity rate has increased each of the last 10 days and 28 of the last 29 days, according to data compiled by NBC 5.
As a result, Illinois has implemented a variety of mitigation strategies, including the shutdown of indoor dining and bar service in all 11 of the state’s healthcare regions. Gathering sizes have also been limited throughout the state, with party bus service currently suspended due to the surge in positivity rates and hospitalizations.
'We've Lost More Than 3 9/11s:' Illinois Flags Remain at Half-Staff to Honor COVID-19 Victims
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave a grim reminder about the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday when a reporter asked him why flags remain at half-staff throughout the state several months after the pandemic began.
"We've lost more than three 9/11s in nine months," the governor said at his daily coronavirus news briefing. "We are losing dozens of people every single day."
In all, 9,810 deaths related to the virus have been reported statewide since the beginning of the pandemic.
Additionally, on Monday, Illinois saw another increase in its seven-day positivity rate as 6,222 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours.
In April, Pritzker directed all flags be lowered at half-staff to honor those who lost their lives to COVID-19. During his daily briefing Monday, the governor said flags will remain at half-staff until the pandemic is over.
"I think it’s the right thing to do to recognize the terrible loss that so many people who cant even go to a funeral sometimes for a relative or friend, this is one way we can honor all of them," he said.
Pritzker Urges Small Businesses to Apply for Grants as COVID-19 Restrictions Are Implemented
As the state continues to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker sought to highlight the efforts officials are taking to help suffering businesses.
According to Pritzker, the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has deployed more than $1 billion in economic relief to state businesses, including more than $270 million into its Business Interruption Grants program.
“With the resources we can afford, we’re continuing to dedicate substantial support for our state’s residents, their families, small businesses, non-profit organizations and local governments to help them get through this pandemic,” Pritzker said.
Thus far, the BIG program has distributed $95 million to businesses in 89 of Illinois’ 102 counties, and Pritzker says approximately $175 million is still available to businesses that apply for the program.
Of the funds distributed so far, nearly $47 million have gone to nearly 1,900 restaurants and taverns in the state, with another $9 million going to 416 gyms and fitness centers, according to data provided by the Pritzker administration. Indoor recreation and concert venues, along with event spaces, have also received funding through the program.
Pritzker’s administration says that another $270 million in funds has been set aside for child care restoration grants, while another $250 million has been set aside for local government grants through the Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency Support (CURES) program.
Those funds will be used to reimburse local governments for COVID-19 related expenses. Nearly $50 million has already been distributed through the program, with another $31.9 million currently being processed. More than $170 million still remains to be distributed, but Pritzker says that 560 local governments that are eligible for the funding have not yet registered for it, urging them to do so quickly.
“This is an urgent call to action to local mayors and city councils outside of Cook and the collar counties: submit your costs soon to make sure your community is getting the local CURE dollars you deserve,” Pritzker said.
Even with all the funding the state has allocated and set aside during the pandemic, Pritzker says that he wants Illinois to be able to do more, but the lack of a second coronavirus relief bill at the federal level is hampering efforts to do so.
“The dollars provided by the federal government aren’t nearly enough, so I’ve simultaneously called for the federal government to deliver more direction assistance for Americans in every state, and I would encourage elected officials across the state to join me in that advocacy,” he said.
City of Chicago Shuts Down 3 Large Parties Violating Coronavirus Restrictions
The city of Chicago issued cease and desist orders to businesses that hosted illegal parties in "egregious" violations of COVID-19 regulations this past weekend, according to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
While an investigation into more than 150 businesses found a "high level of compliance" with city regulations and state-imposed mitigation measures, two businesses and a third establishment were shut down for throwing parties with hundreds of people in attendance, BACP officials said.
In line with an order issued by the Chicago Department of Public Health on Oct. 23, all city residents are being asked to avoid social gatherings of more than six people and end all gatherings by 10 p.m.
According to state-issued mitigations triggered by a rising positivity rate in the city, gatherings must be limited to no more than 25 people or 25% of an overall room capacity.
In stark violation of the restrictions, Chicago Sports Complex, 2600 W. 35th St., had a gathering with more than 600 people who weren't wearing face coverings of practicing social distancing, city officials said.
At DDC Studios, 6107 W. Diversey Ave., approximately 200 individuals attended a party and also weren't practicing the recommended mitigation measures.
A party hosted by unknown individuals at 2147 S. Lumber Street was also broken up by BACP. Approximately 75 people were in attendance and not taking part in social distancing, according to officials.
“I want to applaud our business community for their continued commitment to keeping our community safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said in the news release. “While blatant disregard for our COVID-19 regulations puts our entire community at risk and will not be tolerated, the vast majority of Chicago’s businesses are doing what is necessary to protect the health of their patrons and employees.”
City officials also learned of a Halloween party, located at 1900 N. Austin Ave., through Eventbrite, and were able to cancel the gathering before it took place. More than 500 people planned to attend, according to BACP.
‘The Stoplight is Red:' Pritzker Urges Vigilance as Coronavirus Mitigations Take Effect
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker emphasized Monday that the state is heading in the wrong direction in terms of coronavirus cases and positivity rates, urging residents to continue to be vigilant and to take state directives seriously as officials try to curb the spread of the virus.
According to the governor, none of Illinois’ 11 healthcare regions saw a decline in their coronavirus positivity rates over the last week, and now all 11 are currently under enhanced mitigations as a result.
During his Monday press conference discussing the state’s response to the virus, Pritzker urged state residents to take the recent spike in cases seriously, saying that the state is at a critical point in preventing a further explosion in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“Just like driving a car, when someone blows through a stoplight they not only risk their own life, but also the lives of all the other drivers around them,” he said. “Right now, the stoplight is red. Please act accordingly.”
No region of the state has been spared the recent uptick in cases and positivity rates. Pritzker called the last seven days “one of the worst single-week increases” in regional positivity since the pandemic began. He pointed to Region 7, comprised of Will and Kankakee counties, as one of the more alarming examples, as that region has seen its positivity rate increase from 9.3% to 12.4% in just one week.
Hospital admissions are also up throughout the state, with more hospitalizations than any time since late May, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Even with the increases in numbers, Pritzker emphasized the importance of the actions of residents, saying that doing simple things like wearing a mask and social distancing can have a big impact on numbers, and could allow businesses to return to more normal operation in the coming weeks.
“Nothing we can do will immediately reduce the positivity rate or hospitalizations,” he said. “But our resurgence mitigations are designed to have an impact over several weeks as long as everyone takes some responsibility for masking, social distancing, and following CDC and IDPH guidelines.”
Under the mitigations in effect in 10 of Illinois’ 11 healthcare regions, indoor dining and bar service is currently suspended, while gatherings are limited to 25 people or fewer. In Region 1, located in the northwestern part of the state, gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer individuals as a result of elevated positivity rates.
Illinois Reports 6,222 New Coronavirus Cases as Positivity Rate Climbs
Illinois saw another increase in its seven-day positivity rate on Monday, as the state saw 6,222 new cases of coronavirus reported within the last 24 hours.
The new cases lifted Illinois' rolling seven-day positivity rate rise from 8% to 8.1%, the highest mark the state has seen since late May when the state was on its way down from its first coronavirus cases peak.
In all, 423,502 cases of the virus have been reported statewide since the pandemic began.
According to officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state also reported 20 additional deaths Monday, bringing the statewide total to 9,810 deaths related to the virus.
The state says 68,118 test results have been returned to state labs in the last 24 hours, with 7,876,421 total tests performed during the pandemic.
Along with the increases in cases and positivity rates, the state has also seen a continued rise in hospitalizations due to the virus. According to IDPH data, 3,371 residents are currently hospitalized because of the virus, the highest number in that category since May 30. Of those patients, 722 are currently in intensive care units and 298 are on ventilators.
Get the latest news on COVID vaccines in your inbox. Click here to sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.