State reports 2,270 new COVID-19 cases, 136 additional deaths

An additional 2,270 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois in the past 24 hours, and there were 136 more deaths from the disease, state officials said Wednesday during a news briefing in Chicago.


That brings the total number of cases in Illinois to 68,232 and the total number of deaths to 2,974.


The state announced the latest COVID-19 numbers as officials drew attention to the plight of vulnerable populations, particularly Latin Americans, and left little hope that the Illinois State Fair would take place this year. The fair is scheduled for Aug. 13-23.


"I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to hold our state fairs," Gov. JB Pritzker said. "I’ve been to the state fairs. I think many people have. You know that this will be many people packed together in buildings or even on pathways. I do not believe we will be able to open the state fair."


Cases by day
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Across the state, 4,832 people are hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Of those patients, 1,231 are in intensive care units and 780 are on ventilators.


Nearly 15,000 people were tested for COVID-19 in Illinois in the past day, bringing the total number of tests to 361,260.


The state’s Latino population is testing positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than any other demographic group.


Although nearly half the people tested did not provide demographic information, 7.6%, or 26,000, self-identified as Hispanic, Pritzker said during Wednesday’s briefing. Of those, nearly 16,000, or 60%, tested positive for COVID-19 — a rate nearly three times higher than the state average.


"Our data from the start until today shines a concerning spotlight on which of our residents are most likely to get sick from COVID-19," Pritzker said. "Decades of institutional inequities and obstacles for members of our Latinx communities are now amplified in this pandemic."


Tracking the curve
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Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, urged community leaders across the state to spread the news about testing availability.


"Regardless of the ability to pay, not having insurance or regardless of citizenship status, COVID-19 is available and covered for everyone," Ezike said.


The state is offering housing assistance to those needing to self-isolate because they’ve been exposed to or have received a diagnosis of COVID-19, Pritzker said. Meals and medical assistance are provided at these locations, as well.


The governor also addressed the state’s new face mask requirement, which went into effect May 1.


Face masks now are required to be worn in public places where social distancing of 6 feet or more cannot be maintained.


"I recognize that this is a new practice for many in Illinois and the entire United States," he said. "But it’s on us to change how we think about face coverings. Protecting your fellow Americans by wearing a face covering in public is a collective act of patriotism. And doctors will tell you, it’s one of the best things that we can do for public health right now."


Corina Curry: ccurry@rrstar.com; @corinacurry