168 New Coronavirus Cases in Illinois, Statewide Total Now at 753

A sixth death, a Cook County man in his 70s, was also confirmed Saturday

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An additional 168 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in Illinois, health officials said Saturday, increasing the statewide total to 753.

A sixth death, a Cook County man in his 70s, was also confirmed by state health officials.

The announcement of an increase in cases came just hours before a statewide stay-at-home order was set to take effect. The order, a drastic measure aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, started at 5 p.m. Saturday and is expected to last through April 7.

In his coronavirus briefing on Thursday, March 19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced three additional coronavirus-related deaths in Illinois, bringing the number of state fatalities to four.

Similar orders have been issued in California and even in suburban Oak Park where a shelter-in-place order went into effect Friday.

In addition to the newly-announced stay-at-home order, restaurants, bars and schools all remain shut down during the pandemic.

In Chicago, a public health order requires anyone who is showing symptoms or has been diagnosed with coronavirus to stay in their homes, with few exceptions.

We asked Pulmonologist Randy Orr, MD, ICU and Medical Director at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital to take on comments we’ve seen on social media and let us know what’s true and what’s false.

The latest statewide number marks a jump from the total of 585 cases reported as of Friday, and health officials said they expect the number will continue to climb.

Cases have so far been reported in Chicago as well as Adams, Christian, Champaign, Clinton, Cook, Cumberland, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Madison, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, St. Clair, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago and Woodford counties. 

Health officials pointed out Friday that they're working to increase testing capacity by collaborating with hospitals to conduct testing at their facilities.

In addition, the Illinois Department of Public Health is working with federal agencies and retailers such as Wal-Mart, and Walgreens to set up drive-thru testing sites in the hardest hit areas of the state, according to a news release.

On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the statewide schools' closure through April 7, and added he's not certain when schools will be able to safely reopen.

Gov. Pritzker announced Monday that mandatory gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled in accordance with new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a list of Chicago-area closures and cancellations, click here.

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