Illinois Reports Highest Single-Day Death Toll Since Coronavirus Pandemic Began

In addition to 1,287 new cases, 73 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours

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Illinois' total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose above 13,500 Tuesday as the state saw its biggest single-day death toll since the pandemic began.

In addition to 1,287 new cases, 73 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of state fatalities to 380.

"I’m deeply saddened to say that in the last 24 hours, we have had 73 fatalities in the battle against COVID-19 – our largest single day increase to date," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.

Cases have been reported in 77 of Illinois' 102 counties, with Coles, Lawrence, Richland and Shelby counties each reporting their first cases Tuesday.

Pritzker said the state needs time to find a solution to the crisis.

"By bending the curve, we are buying them all time," Pritzker said. "Time to find our solutions. Time to save lives. Valuable time now that allows us to move beyond this crisis more quickly."

At the same time, officials worry that Tuesday's warm weather could lead to an increase in cases as residents look to head outside.

Temperatures in the Chicago area Tuesday rose to levels not seen in 189 days, according to NBC 5 Storm Team meteorologists. But with those warmer temperatures came concerns and warnings from officials.

"Staying home is the most likely reason you can avoid ending up on a ventilator," Pritzker said. "I know that especially on a warm day like today, that’s particularly hard to hear. The sun shines, and it feels a little bit more like this should be over, that you should be hanging out with your friends and loved ones by the lake, at the fairgrounds, over dinner. Believe me: I, too, would do just about anything for an immediate solution to this."

The warmest temperatures of the year have lured people in Chicago and the suburbs outside, but they need to keep their distance, as NBC 5's Sandra Torres reports.

Pritzker said last week that he expects Illinois cases will peak in the later part of April. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has warned the city could see upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations and U.S. health experts worry Cook County could become one of the nation's next hotspots.

"Just because you hit a peak doesn't mean you're going to fall precipitously to zero," Pritzker said Thursday. "Once we get to that peak we're all going to be praying that we come off that peak quickly, but we might not...we might be flattened at that peak."

Already, the state is bringing back online once-shuttered hospitals and has transformed Chicago's McCormick Place convention center into an alternate care facility for 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.

"in normal battle you show up to the fight but for this battle the winning strategy is to stay at home," Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health said Tuesday.

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