Pritzker announces first Illinois death from COVID-19

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the first COVID-19 death in Illinois amid the spread of a new coronavirus and defended his decision to move forward with in-person voting for the state’s primary election.

“I’m deeply saddened to share news that I’ve dreaded since the earliest days of this outbreak – the first COVID-19-related death in Illinois,” the governor said at a news conference Tuesday in Chicago.

A Chicago woman in her 60s with an underlying health condition who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month was the first person in the state to die of the disease caused the novel coronavirus that emerged in late December.

“I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family members,” Pritzker said. “I want them to know that the entire state of Illinois mourns with them.”

The woman was not a nursing home resident.

The governor also announced that a confirmed case of COVID-19 first announced Saturday at a private long-term care facility in DuPage County had since spread to others in the facility. Subsequent testing of all of the residents and employees at the facility resulted in 22 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, Pritzker said Tuesday. Of those 22 cases, 18 were residents and four were employees.

“This situation reinforces just how critical it is, especially for our vulnerable populations, that we get approvals and supplies from the federal government so we can test large groups of vulnerable people earlier than we are able to now,” Pritzker said.

State health officials confirmed 160 cases of the new coronavirus in 15 counties in Illinois, as of Tuesday.

The governor said the federal government was preventing distribution of needed testing supplies.

“The federal government is monopolizing supplies and not providing them to the states,” Pritzker said. “They set deadlines and blew through them. They told us capacity would increase and it hasn’t.”

Pritzker also said more difficult times were ahead for the state.

“There are going to be moments during the next few weeks and months when this burden feels like it is more than we can bear – this is one of those moments, but we will get through this together,” he said.

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