Illinois Coronavirus Updates: ‘Super Spreader' in Chicago, Case Total Passes 16K

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today

(NOTE: Daily press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the player above. Check back for updates.)

Coronavirus cases have continued their rise across the state, but health officials say there is a "glimmer of hope" in the numbers.

Meanwhile, a new report has surfaced showing just how quickly the virus spread in Chicago before social distancing guidelines were issued.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (April 9):

Pritzker Recommends Canceling Large Summer Events

All large gatherings planned for summertime in Illinois may need to be canceled, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday.

When asked during his daily coronavirus briefing if organizers of major summer events should plan on limiting crowds or making adjustments, Pritzker said he thinks "everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events."

"Until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away, I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere," Pritzker said. "And I think that's hard for everybody to hear, but that's just a fact. They're just, you know, even with testing and tracing and treating, it's necessary for us to begin to make changes. It isn't enough for me to say that it's okay to have a big festival with a whole bunch of people gathering together."

Will Illinois' Stay-at-Home Order Be Lifted Early if Cases Peak Soon? Pritzker Weighs In

Despite cautious talk of Illinois potentially reaching its peak number of coronavirus cases sooner than expected, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said it's unlikely the statewide stay-at-home order will be lifted early.

Currently, the order, which began exactly one calendar months ago, remains in effect until April 30, though some models predict the state could reach its peak as early as this weekend.

"Look, you know, we talk a lot about peaking and we talk a lot about how we're bending the curve, the curve is still upward trajectory," Pritzker said in his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday. "And so just because we're bending the curve does not mean it's bending down yet. And so people need to understand that, that it is unlikely that that we will be able to lift this stay at home before April 30. And indeed, as we approach April 30, we will be thinking about what are the restrictions or rules that we need to set going forward after April 30? Because it isn't going to be unlike what some have said, you know, at the federal level. It isn't going to be that all of a sudden you're going to drop the you know, stay-at-home and every other restriction."

Illinois Coronavirus: Total Number of Cases Tops 16,000 With 528 Deaths

One month since the start of Illinois' stay-at-home order, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the state climbed over 16,000, with a total of 16,422 cases reported.

In addition to 1,344 new cases on Thursday alone, 66 additional deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, lifting the death toll across the state to 528, health officials announced.

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

CDC Report Traces February Coronavirus 'Cluster' in Illinois to 'Super-Spreader'

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traces a "cluster" of Illinois coronavirus cases in February back to what it considers a "super-spreader," who unknowingly infected guests at a funeral and birthday party before social distancing rules were put in place.

The report reveals how quickly one person apparently infected at least 10 people, who then also spread the virus, for a total of 15 presumed cases.

New Projection Estimates Fewer Total Deaths, Peak Coming Soon in Illinois

Projections from a research group that has been tracking medical equipment use, deaths and coronavirus cases across the country has changed its estimations for Chicago and state officials say the numbers offer a "glimmer of hope."

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now projects coronavirus-related deaths will reach 1,588 in Illinois. The estimations from the group predict through Aug. 4 so far.

In addition to the drop in fatality projections, the institute's estimations also show Illinois reaching a peak on Saturday.

While Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the projections offer a "glimmer of hope," he noted that other models show different estimations. But Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the state’s Department of Public Health, also noted there is evidence that the state is making at least some progress in the fight to contain the virus.

To Prepare for ‘Surge in Deaths’ From COVID-19, Cook County Opens Refrigerated Warehouse to Store Thousands of Bodies

To prepare for a surge in COVID-19 deaths, Cook County officials on Thursday opened a refrigerated warehouse to store thousands of additional bodies.

The 66,000-square foot refrigerated “surge center” can hold more than 2,000 bodies, and is located about five miles from the county’s Near West Side morgue, according to a statement office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

CTA Starts Rear-Boarding on Buses, Makes Changes to Promote Social Distancing

The Chicago Transit Authority began making riders board at the rear doors of buses Thursday, among other operational changes in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced.

When CTA buses pull up to stops, posted signs will direct customers to the rear doors to board, Lightfoot said in a statement announcing the changes, which her office said are in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those who need to use the ramp or have the bus kneel to the curb can signal to the driver and will still be able to use the front door, she said.

More on this here.

Chicago Liquor Sales Curfew Begins Thursday

Chicago will implement a 9 p.m. liquor sales curfew starting Thursday in an effort to stop people from congregating at businesses that sell alcohol during Illinois' stay-at-home order.

The curfew will remain in effect through at least April 30.

Stores that continue selling liquor despite the curfew could face fines of up to $500, arrest and possibly the revocation of their liquor and other licenses.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 9 p.m. liquor sales curfew in the city beginning Thursday.

Is Illinois Reaching a Peak?

After seeing the state's highest daily increases in both deaths and infections since the coronavirus pandemic began in Illinois, public health officials indicated there was a "glimmer of hope" in the numbers.

"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."

She also noted that a peak could be coming soon, but timing remains unclear.

"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."

"There are reasons to see glimmers of hope here in the numbers," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, noting that some models are indicating the state's death rate could be lower than expected.

Pritzker Says Illinois Won’t Hit Goal of 10,000 COVID-19 Tests Per Day This Week

State officials in Illinois had hoped to be processing up to 10,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of this week, but Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday that the state will not be able to hit that benchmark after hitting several roadblocks.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, the state processed at least 6,000 coronavirus tests, far short of the 10,000 mark, according to the governor.

According to Pritzker, the state recently partnered with Thermo Fisher to add new laboratory automation machines at state-run labs. Those machines, regulated by the FDA and authorized for use in Illinois under an Emergency Use Authorization order, are capable of running 200 tests per hour when operating at peak efficiency, but issues with the machines have prevented them from running at that level.

State officials in Illinois had hoped to be processing up to 10,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of this week, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday that the state will not be able to hit that benchmark after hitting several roadblocks. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports.
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