Deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois topped 100 Friday for the third day in a row, and the continuing deluge of new cases helps explain why the nation hit an all-time high on Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 126 fatalities related to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, along with 13,012 newly confirmed infections. The recent weeks' soaring numbers prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reimpose harsher restrictions on social interaction. So-called Tier 3 mitigations took effect statewide Friday.
The pandemic is shaking the nation with its virulence, by some measures topping its disastrous spring start. The nearly 188,000 new cases reported Thursday was an all-time national high, as were the more than 80,000 who are hospitalized. An average of 1,300 are dying daily across the U.S.
For weeks, Pritzker and health experts have pleaded with the public to slow the raging virus by wearing required face masks when out in public, keeping at least 6 feet away from other people, avoiding large gatherings of people and washing hands frequently.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago, the governor welcomed a Bloomington family who suffered the death last month of Danielle “Dani” Rubin Kater. Her parents, Bob and Tina Rubin, and Tim Kater, her husband of 6 1/2 years, contacted Pritzker's office about sharing their story and stressing the requisite safety measures that could spare other families from a similar tragedy.
Tim Kater said his wife lost her sense of smell and taste — a common symptom of COVID-19 — on a Tuesday. She was tested while the couple quarantined and received a positive test result on that Saturday. On Monday, she was admitted to a hospital with difficulty breathing, was on a ventilator Monday night, and died Tuesday morning.
“These aren’t just numbers, they’re not just statistics,” Tina Rubin said. “These are real people with real lives and real futures that have been stolen by this virus ....”
“I know everybody’s tired,” she added, “but you just have no idea the devastation that losing someone brings to your family.”
Illinois turned around a record 116,000 tests in a 24-hour period ending Friday, but officials have said that more testing alone cannot account for the swelling numbers.
They can be seen in an overworked health care system that sees no impending relief. There were 6,111 people hospitalized with about 1,200 in intensive care and 604 on ventilators, which represents a 24% increase from just a week earlier.
While not the stay-at-home order Pritzker imposed for six weeks last spring, by reinstating Tier 3 mitigation levels, most businesses and other public spaces such as theaters and museums where people congregate were closed. Further, restaurants are not permitted indoor dining. If restaurants and bars want to serve customers they can only do so outside. The new restrictions also call for a reduction in the number of customers allowed in retail stores and such businesses as fitness centers and beauty salons.
As the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and celebrate the holiday only with those who live with them. Chicago and state officials strenuously suggested following that guideline.