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Thirteen More With COVID-19 Die In Illinois, Including An Infant

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Thirteen more people with COVID-19 have died in Illinois, including an infant in Cook County.

At his daily press briefing Saturday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker grew emotional announcing the deaths, which also included an Illinois Department of Human Services employee.

“I’ve learned through personal experience that grief is a bridge,” Pritzker said. “It gives us permission to experience the sadness that we need to feel in order to move forward. It helps us empathize with the people in our community that are hurting. It helps us to lift them up.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said there hasn’t been a death of a person so young associated with the disease and an investigation into the cause of death is underway.

“I want everyone in Illinois to take COVID-19 serious. If you haven’t been paying attention maybe this is your wakeup call,” she said.

Both Ezike and Pritzker emphasized that the disease is rarely deadly to children, and more than 85% of deaths in Illinois have been among those 60 years and older.

The two continued to stress the importance of staying at home to stop the virus from spreading. Saturday marks one week since Illinois’ stay-at-home order took effect.

“I’m sounding like a broken record, but the truth remains the truth, these actions will end this pandemic,” Ezike said.

Ezike reported 465 new confirmed cases of the disease, which includes two in Macon County. Sangamon County reports twelve confirmed cases as of Saturday. Forty-seven people have died.

The statewide total sits at 3,491, with more than 25,000 tests completed.

Field Hospitals And Protective Equipment Donations

Meanwhile, Pritzker said McCormick Place – the convention center in Chicago – will serve as the state’s first field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.

He said public health and emergency agencies are working with the Illinois National Guard and Army Corps of Engineer to identify more facilities to serve as field hospitals in areas of the state with the biggest potential need for more hospital beds.

“We’re not waiting for the worst. We’re preparing ourselves for the worst,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the state is working to acquire more masks, gloves, ventilators and other supplies needed to treat hospitalized patients. But he said the state welcomes donations, including the 400,000 N-95 masks McDonald's Corporation provided Saturday.

Donations inquiries can be sent to ppe.donations@illinois.gov.

The governor also discussed a number of exceptions to federal Medicaid rules his administration is seeking to make it easier and faster for low-income families to get insurance and care.

Clarification: An infant with COVID-19 died in Cook County. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said an investigation into the cause of the infant's death is underway.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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