Illinois saw its biggest single-day spike since the coronavirus pandemic began Friday, with 1,209 new cases reported in the last 24 hours.
That brings the total number of confirmed infections to 8,904 on Friday, health officials announced, with 210 total deaths. The deaths, which were reported in seven Illinois counties, mark an increase of 53 fatalities in the last day.
"That’s 210 fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and children, who are no longer with us," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
With the newly confirmed cases, more than 60 of the state's 102 counties have now reported at least one confirmed case of the virus. (See a full list of cases by county here)
Illinois has been under a stay-at-home order for almost two weeks and Pritzker announced Tuesday the order will continue until April 30.
Pritzker also recommended Friday that Illinois residents wear masks or cover their mouths in some way if they must go outside during the statewide stay-at-home order.
"The most important thing you can do frankly, is stay home, but when you do go outside or when you must go to the grocery store or pharmacy, wearing something to cover your face based upon what the science say," Pritzker said. "Maybe it’s a homemade fabric mask or maybe it’s a manufactured general medical mask - really just something to cover your nose and mouth out of courtesy to those around you in case you're one of those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people and who could be spreading the virus.Wearing a mask is just one more way that we can help take care of each other."
The updated guidance comes as scientists say more evidence indicates the virus could be spread by asymptomatic people.
Pritzker said Thursday he expected 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. "Once we get to that peak we're all gonna 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.
Pritzker's Friday briefing was held from inside the convention center-turned-hospital, which already had hundreds of beds prepared for patients.