Health officials report rising number of COVID-19 cases

(The Center Square) – Illinois is closing in on 7,000 cases of COVID-19.

Illinois Department of Public Health officials on Wednesday announced an additional 986 positive cases with 42 additional death. Of the 42 deaths, 31 were in Cook County.

“The coming weeks are going to get more and more difficult as the number of cases and deaths continue to rise,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday. “But I’m not urging people to despair. Let’s be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified. Don’t be discouraged.”

She encouraged people to wash their hands, stay at home as much as possible and clean frequently-touch surfaces to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus that emerged in late 2019.

This comes a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended his stay-at-home order through April 30 as part of the state’s effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19. The stay-at-home order requires all nonessential businesses to remain closed and limits people to essential trips to get groceries and medical care, among other things.

In addition to trying to curb the spread of COVID-19 in cities and towns, state officials are working slow the spread of the virus in prisons, including the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.

The Illinois Nurses Association announced Wednesday that 12 correctional employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and 187 staff members were awaiting results.

Two downstate counties – Massac and Vermilion – were added to the list of counties with positive cases.

As of Wednesday, public health officials had reported a total of 6,980 cases, including 141 deaths, in 56 of the state’s 102 counties.

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