The first downstate cases of coronavirus disease were announced Saturday. Two are in Central Illinois.
Those two cases are from Woodford County, and Cumberland County, about an hour south of Champaign. There were also two cases in St. Clair County — in the Metro East area near St. Louis. The Woodford County case is a man in his 70s.
“As we expected, we are beginning to identify cases of COVID-19 outside of the Chicago area,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Over the past several days, we have announced aggressive measures to reduce and slow the spread of the virus in Illinois. These are not easy decisions to make and we are not taking them lightly, but we believe these actions will help limit the spread of the virus in our communities and keep our residents safe.”
State officials said they are investigating possible exposures and travel histories for those affected and working to identify and contact all individuals who are close contacts for these cases.
“We are starting to receive results from commercial laboratory testing,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “With these additional results, we expect the number of identified cases to increase dramatically all across the state. It is vitally important that we implement social distancing measures, such as staying home and cancelling large events. These are actions that can reduce the number of infections that occur in the community, and ultimately alleviate the strain on our health care systems.”
Pritzker said too many people are ignoring public health guidelines to STAY AT HOME.
“We saw a lot of crowds out and about today, and I need to be frank. We can have a massive, positive effect on bending the transmission curve, if people will take this seriously,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker said young and healthy people, in particular, need to follow social distancing guidelines.
“Listen up ... You may only have mild symptoms for a few days and may think that you’re just fine, but you could have the unintended tragic effect of spreading COVID-19 to others who may be more vulnerable,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker already banned gatherings of more than a thousand people, and closed all of Illinois’ schools for two weeks, beginning Tuesday.
A DuPage County woman in her 60s residing in a long-term care facility has also tested positive.
The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 64. In addition to cases in Cumberland, DuPage, St. Clair, and Woodford counties, there are seven new cases in Chicago, four in suburban Cook, one in Kane, and one in Lake counties.