Illinois Coronavirus: Total Number of Cases Reaches 17,887 With 596 Deaths

Cases have been reported in more than 80 of Illinois' 102 counties

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With nearly three weeks left in Illinois' stay-at-home order, the state has reported at least 17,887 confirmed cases and nearly 600 deaths, officials announced Friday.

In addition to the 1,465 new cases reported on Friday, 68 additional deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, health officials announced.

Cases have been reported in more than 80 of Illinois' 102 counties.

The increase comes as officials urge residents to avoid gathering on Easter Sunday.

"I implore all Chicagoans and faith leaders to celebrate in any way you can as long as it is done separately and consistent with the stay-at-home guidelines," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in an address Friday. "It is imperative that this year we worship in a new way."

April 10: Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds his daily coronavirus press briefing.

Earlier this week, both Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike had similar warnings for churchgoers.

"Please, let's stay home. I'm a woman of faith, I miss being at church, Bible study prayer groups, the laying on of hands. This is not the time we don't want to hurt the people that we're intending to commune with," Ezike said. "Please stay a minimum of six feet away from each other, wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently, but congregation church meetings is ill advised at this time. Find a way to do the services electronically. The testing of our faith produces perseverance and let perseverance finish this work. We know the strategies that we've employed, are working. Let's not stop now. Let's be all in Illinois. We are going to get to the other side of this pandemic and all be able to celebrate whatever faith we celebrate together soon."

Illinois saw its largest single-day spike in infections and deaths Wednesday, but even still, officials said numbers showed a "glimmer of hope."

"The rate at which they're increasing is less and that is a good sign," Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said. "We're not seeing the exponential growth we were seeing before."

Ezike said Wednesday it remains unclear when Illinois will reach its peak number of cases, though a recent projection estimated the peak could arrive this weekend.

"We're hoping that we're getting close to either the peak or the plateau," she said. "It's not clear how long that will be. It's really hard to get specific days like we're x days away from the peak, but we think we're heading in that direction and we will continue to follow the data and give you more as we get it."

Sicknesses caused by coronaviruses and allergens have overlapping symptoms, but there are differences between each that helps distinguish the COVID-19 and seasonal allergies.

Chicago on Thursday begins a citywide liquor sales curfew in an effort to stop congregations at area businesses selling alcohol.

"We are putting this curfew in place because too many individuals and businesses have been violating the stay-at-home order," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday.

The 9 p.m. curfew will remain in effect through the remainder of the statewide stay-at-home order, which lasts through April 30.

"We are not messing around with this," Lightfoot said.

Illinois has been working to bring once-shuttered hospitals back online and has transformed Chicago's McCormick Place convention center into an alternate care facility for hundreds of patients with mild symptoms.

Across Illinois and the country, Americans are being encouraged to wear masks or face coverings if they have to head outside.

"United we stand and divided we fall," Ezike said Friday. "I'm inspired by all of you following the recommendations."

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