CHICAGO — Illinois is rushing to build hospital beds and launched a campaign to get residents to follow social distancing guidelines as the number of coronavirus cases in the state passed 7,500 Thursday.
According to statistics released by the Illinois Department of Public Health Thursday, 715 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths have been confirmed across the state. That brings the total to 7,695 cases, including 157 deaths, in 61 counties in Illinois.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said 85 percent of deaths are among individuals 60 years of age and older, but noted “no one is immune” to the virus. However, Ezike said 50 percent of people in Illinois with a confirmed cases recover within seven days, including a couple in their 70s.
“We do need people to have that hope, and know that it’s not a death sentence,” Ezike said.
Governor JB Pritzker began his remarks Thursday by saying he’s done almost all he can to prevent the spread of the virus in Illinois, and criticizing the pace of federal actions and national stay-at-home guidelines.
“This will go down in history as a profound failure of our national government,” Pritzker said.
State officials are rushing to add capacity ahead of an expected surge in COVID-19 cases by building field hospitals and partially reopening recently-closed medical facilities.
Watch Above: Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and health officials give their daily update on the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the latest government measures
The National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and others are working to add beds in McCormick Place, which will hold 3,000 beds when it is done.
“I didn’t know you could make something that big, build something out like that in five days,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said 230 beds will be readied at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, and 500 beds will be made available at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island.
The state is also working to expand the capacity of domestic violence programs through a new grant program. Survivors experiencing domestic violence or living in fear of violence can call a hotline at 1-877-TO END DV (1-877-863-6338 voice or 1-877-863-6339 TTY) to get assistance.
Additionally, the governor announced a new initiative called “All in Illinois” Thursday, aimed at getting people to follow the state’s stay-at-home message and practice social distancing.
“This is a fun way, I think, for everybody to feel camaraderie with each other, to feel as if, in fact we are all in this together in Illinois,” Pritkzer said. “This is one way for everyone to show their pride.”
As part of the campaign, a wide range of famous Illinoisians put together PSAs encouraging people to stay inside. The state also put together ways for people to update their profile pictures on social media, and show solidarity with the message.
Jane Lynch was among the first celebrities to post one of the (presumably self-produced) messages from inside her home: