Three more people in Illinois died with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Thursday, March 19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), including a 71-year-old Florida woman who was a patient at Memorial Medial Center in Springfield.
The other individuals include a Will County resident in his 50s and a Cook County resident in her 80s. The Memorial patient was a Florida resident who had been visiting the Springfield area when she became ill, according to the hospital. She was the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Sangamon County.
Locally, the Montgomery County Health Department reported Thursday afternoon 15 pending tests, two negative tests, and still no positive tests.
There were, however, 134 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across Illinois. Five additional counties are now reporting cases; Jackson, Kankakee, LaSalle, Washington, and Williamson counties. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 422 cases in 22 counties in Illinois. Cases have occurred in ages 9 to 99. Cases by county can be found on the IDPH website, as well as a list of local health departments who will have the most up-to-date information.
The number of COVID-19 cases being reported is rising quickly, partly because of the increase in testing by commercial and hospital laboratories. Because testing is becoming more available in these labs, IDPH will prioritize testing for our most vulnerable populations, such as those who work or live in nursing homes and other congregate facilities. Once a case in these locations is confirmed, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, testing of all residents and staff without symptoms is not recommended. However, all precautions to prevent additional spread should be taken and staff and residents should be closely monitored for respiratory illness.
But the growing number of cases also reflects a rapid spread of disease across communities. While these numbers are concerning, it’s not unexpected and the more robust information will allow the IDPH to better understand and track the size and scope of the outbreak and strengthen prevention and response efforts.
Late Wednesday, Christian-Montgomery EMA Director Greg Nimmo reported that local hospitals are becoming busier daily. He advises those with minor flu-like symptoms to stay home, but if the symptoms worsen, call a medical provider, convenient care or emergency department. Only call 911 in case of an emergency.
“We cannot stress enough to call ahead to your medical provider before you present yourself for any medical care,” Nimmo said on Thursday. “We must keep from overwhelming our hospital system and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”