An additional 125 people in Illinois died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and the state has now surpassed 1,000 total deaths from the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.


That marks the highest single-day death total in the state so far — 23 more fatalities than the previous high on April 8.


There have been 1,072 deaths from the disease in Illinois so far, according to the state Department of Public Health.


Tracking the curve
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"These are family members and loved ones, neighbors and friends. Today we mourn with their communities and we offer them our solace and our strength in this very difficult time," Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily news conference at the Thompson Center in Chicago. "May their memories be a blessing."


Information about one previously reported death has changed, and the total number of deaths reported was adjusted, the Department of Public Health said in an email to the Register Star.


The state also reported 1,140 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 25,733.


New research suggests that people with COVID-19 may be most contagious the day they first experience symptoms or even a day or two before, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.


"Remember, we have only known about this virus in the last five months, and we’ve only known it to be in our state for four months," Ezike said. "So we’re following the research and we’re following the studies that come out daily to update our knowledge base and inform our decisions."


She referenced a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Medicine. That study of 94 COVID-19 patients in Guangzhou, China, estimated that 44% of secondary cases were infected before the initial patient experienced any symptoms.


"This is why widespread testing is so important, she said. The state needs to know who is infected before they come into contact with others.


Reopening Illinois

Pritzker has partnered with governors from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky and Indiana to make decisions on when to reopen their states. Each state will design its own plan based on shared priorities such as the capacity for widespread testing and manageable rates of hospitalization and continued emphasis on social distancing in the workplace.


"We are committing, all of us, to work in close coordination as a region to most effectively reopen our economy with a fact-based, data-driven approach," Pritzker said.


On Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers decided to close schools through the end of the year and extended stay-at-home restrictions through May 26.


In extending the order, Wisconsin public health officials said they had projected between 440 and 1,500 deaths from COVID-19 by April 8, but the state had recorded just 99 deaths by that day. They credited stay-at-home restrictions for reducing the spread.


Wisconsin had 3,875 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of midday Thursday. Illinois has about 6½ times more cases. In Illinois, Chicago and Cook County account for about 70% of the state's 25,733 infections.


Pritzker said Wisconsin’s extension won’t necessarily match what will happen in Illinois. He again said that the state assesses daily whether to extend the stay-at-home order and school closures beyond April 30.


Kevin Haas: khaas@rrstar.com; @KevinMHaas