Illinois has six new confirmed cases of coronavirus, health officials announced Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 25.
The update came during the state's daily coronavirus press briefing.
"With these new cases, we are seeing more spread in our community, and again I echo the governor's comments that we need to be mindful if anyone is experiencing symptoms, has been in contact with any of these cases that they should notify their provider," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
The majority of the new cases were reported in Chicago and Cook County, though a Lake County man in his 50s was also diagnosed, Ezike said. The Cook County cases include:
- A man in his 80s
- 2 men in their 70s
- A woman in her 50s
- A man in his 40s
"We're committed to taking every precaution while ensuring the least amount of disruption," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
Health officials said they are investigating the new cases' travel histories, exposures and close contacts.
All new cases are in isolation, either at home or in an area hospital.
"With these new cases, we are seeing more spread in our community, and again I echo the governor's comments that we need to be mindful if anyone is experiencing symptoms, has been in contact with any of these cases that they should notify their provider," Ezike said.
Hours earlier, Chicago and state officials announced Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parades and the city's iconic river dyeing have been postponed amid coronavirus concerns.
The downtown Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade, which was set for Saturday, as well as Sunday's South Side Irish Parade and the Northwest Side parades will not step off as a coronavirus outbreak continues to bring more cases in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The annual dyeing of the Chicago River will also be rescheduled "to a later date," city officials said.
“The health and safety of Chicago’s residents will always be our highest priority and like many other cities across the nation and globe, we are postponing this year’s parades as a precautionary measure to prevent any additional spread of COVID-19,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “I want everyone to rest assured that your City and State continue to work around the clock to stay ahead of this issue and ensure everyone remains protected, informed, and safe.”
Lightfoot said during a press conference Wednesday morning that rescheduling the events "was not an easy decision" but having the festivities would "pose unnecessary risk."
The postponement of the festivities come as several other major events around the city are canceled amid growing concerns over the outbreak in Chicago.
State officials have been urging people, particularly elderly residents, to avoid mass gatherings in the area.
Pritzker noted that decisions to cancel events across the state, as of now, will be made on a local level.
Chicago officials said they are also activating the city's Emergency Operations Center to monitor crowds and other St. Patrick's Day events happening around the city.
Eight additional coronavirus cases were confirmed in Illinois Tuesday. Two of those eight cases were in Chicago.
"The State of Illinois continues to take action to reduce spread of COVID-19 in Illinois and we again want to encourage people to start thinking and preparing now in the event they are not able to go to work, if schools are closed, if public transportation is not available, and how else their lives will be disrupted by this outbreak," Ezike said.
Pritzker, who on Monday declared a disaster proclamation in the state, said he has demanded the state receiving more testing kits as soon as possible.