Illinois’ daily death toll lower than six previous day’s as some call for plan to reopen economy

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday’s COVID-19-related death toll of 43 is lower than the daily death tolls from the past six days in Illinois, but he couldn’t say what plans there are to open things back up.

Illinois has been under stay-at-home orders since March 21, more than three weeks. The governor said it’s an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Nonessential businesses have been prohibited from being open to the public, including churches across the state that were urged to not allow congregations on Easter Sunday.

During his daily press briefing Sunday, Pritzker announced there were 1,672 new positive COVID cases in Illinois. That brings the total number of cases in Illinois to 20,853. There’s also been increased daily tests with nearly 8,000 performed in the last 24 hours. The total number of tests conducted surpassed 100,735.

Pritzker also announced there were 43 COVID-related deaths in the past 24 hours.

“The percent of those tested that came up positive is almost exactly the same as it has been the last two weeks and the death toll today is lower than it has been in six days,” Pritzker said.

There have been 720 total COVID-19 related deaths.

The Illinois Department of Public Health separately reported updates to the state’s hospital capacity.

Of total intensive care unit beds including those taken by COVID-19 patients, 68 percent are occupied as of Saturday. On Thursday, 71.4 percent were occupied. Illinois added 159 ICU beds in that time.

Of the state’s total number of ventilators reported Saturday, 43.8 percent were occupied. Thursday, the rate was 47.3 percent. Illinois added 141 ventilators in that time.

Of 29,989 total hospital beds in Illinois, 60.3 percent are occupied. IDPH says of all hospital beds, including ICU beds, there are currently 4,104 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, said he wants to see a plan to get things opened back up.

“We’d like to see kind of a regional approach to reopening Illinois,” Halbrook said. “We’d just like to know what the plan is to bring the state of Illinois back online to stop all these layoffs and anything and everything else that’s going on.”

He said there are common sense approaches to do that throughout the state where there aren’t hot spots.

“If we want distancing, allow our restaurants, our dine-in restaurants to operate at half capacity, take half the chairs away, allow them to spread out,” Halbrook said. “Things like that, common sense approaches. ”

Pritzker said Sunday that he’s talking with industry leaders about what reopening Illinois would look like.

“This is going to be a little bit complex,” Pritzker said. “You can’t just open everything up and say ‘do what you like’ because we’ll have a big infection rate hike in the state.”

The governor’s stay-at-home order lasts through April 30.

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