Coronavirus Illinois: COVID-19 cases surpass 63K with 2.6K deaths; Gov. Pritzker threatens 'more stringent lockdown' if people continue to defy stay-at-home order

Illinois reports lowest daily COVID-19 death toll in weeks
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday 2,341 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 46 additional deaths, after the state reached record testing numbers over the weekend.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

That brings Illinois' statewide total of coronavirus cases to 63,840, including a total of 2,662 deaths.

WATCH: Gov. JB Pritzker's COVID-19 update on May 4
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Watch Gov. JB Pritzker's opening remarks from the Illinois COVID-19 update on May 4, 2020.

As the state saw the lowest one-day total of COVID-19 deaths since mid-April, Gov. Pritzker said it needs to be looked at in the context of multiple days to determine if it's a true downward trend.

"I know that it's attractive when the sun is out for people to go out and gather in groups, but I want to remind everybody that it's a mistake," Pritzker said.

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Gov. JB Pritzker reported 46 new deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois in the last 24 hours, which is the lowest one-day total since mid-April.

The governor said the state continues to make progress in combating COVID-19, but that if people continue to defy his stay-at-home order, more restrictions could be put back into place.

"And to the extent people are not following them and gathering in groups," Pritzker said. "They're going to spread the virus and they're going to cause us to go back into a, you know, a previous executive order or a more stringent lockdown than what we've had, if, in fact, there's a spike of cases as a result of people not following the rules."

From Friday through Sunday, Chicago police had to break up almost 950 gatherings around Chicago that defied the governor's stay-at-home order, but there were no citations or arrests.

Coronavirus deaths in Illinois by county; COVID-19 victims of all ages

Hospitalization numbers appear to be flattening statewide. At Rush University Medical Center, they remain relatively high, but the lobby converted into an extra care facilty for non-COVID patients has not been needed and is now being used to test staff and medical students for antibodies. But Dr. Paul Casey, the chief medical officer at Rush, issued a warning about people letting their guard down too soon.

"It's not time with nice weather to bring a bunch of people together," Dr. Casey said. "We really got to maintain this social distancing for a period of time to be successful."

In Western Illinois, a pastor who sued the governor and lost his bid for a temporary restraining order still met with nearly 100 people at Beloved Church, but again, there were no arrests.

"If people are persistently defiant, they can be put in jail," Pritzker said. "I'm not suggesting that that's the best answer or the first answer, but it is something that's an option for local law enforcement."

The governor deferred to local law enforcement to handle that as opposed to calling in the state police, but he remained concerned about the potential consequences.

"It's an enormous mistake and I am very hopeful that we aren't going to need to send teams in to do mass testing among the people who, you know, may be spreading the virus in their community," Pritzker said.

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And it's not just in Chicago. In northwest Illinois, several dozen people attended a Sunday church service, defying the ban on gatherings of more than 10.

After the pastor there sued Pritzker arguing his civil rights had been violated, a judge denied that preacher's request for a temporary restraining order over the weekend.

"I'm very hopeful that we aren't going to need to send teams in to do mass testing among the people who may be spreading the virus in their community," Pritzker said.

And in downstate East Peoria, Mayor John Kahl is beginning his own phased reopening of businesses, defying the state order. Pritzker warned that if people get sick, insurance claims could be denied.

"Well, I was a businessman before I became governor, and I have to tell you I would not want to defy the executive order because I believe I would be taking on liability if I did that," Pritzker said.

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Gov. JB Pritzker gives a COVID-19 update on May 3, 2020.

On Sunday, Gov. Pritzker said that the state conducted 19,417 tests in a single day, marking Illinois' highest daily testing total so far.

The testing milestone comes as the state's number of coronavirus cases climbed by 2,994 to a total of 61,499. Illinois' COVID-19 death toll has reached 2,619, state health officials reported Sunday.

"We're doing a lot more testing than most places in the country," Gov. Pritzker said.

The previous high was reported on April 24, with labs processing 16,124 tests in a single day.

Pritzker has said increasing testing capacity is crucial in the fight against COVID-19, setting a goal of processing 10,000 tests a day early last month. It took weeks to reach that milestone.

In north suburban Waukegan, the Illinois Department of Public Health opened a new drive-thru testing site.

Lake County has the third highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, behind Chicago and Cook County.

The Illinois National Guard is running the free testing site at a vehicle emissions testing facility.

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Cars lined up at a new COVID-19 testing site that opened in Waukegan on Sunday.

"Five-hundred tests a day is what we are limited to," said Illinois National Guard member A.J. Ruggieri. "That is due to the amount of tests that the labs can process. That may vary. It may go up. It may go down with time, but right now, it is at 500."

Pritzker wants to ramp up the state's testing capacity even more.

He said he's working to get access to more equipment and supplies.

"We need swabs. We don't have enough swabs. We are getting more from the White House, actually. But you also need viral transport medium and you need the reagents that are necessary to run the test," the governor said.

Pritzker has faced mounting frustrations on the first days of the state's relaxed stay-at-home order.

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A rally against Gov. JB Pritzker's modified stay-at-home order was held in far north suburban Fox Lake Saturday.

Protesters have been rallying against the modified order that took effect May 1. A demonstration was held in far north suburban Fox Lake Saturday, a day after hundreds gathered outside Chicago's Thompson Center.

RAW VIDEO: Stay-at-home order protest in downtown Chicago
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Chopper7 was over the group protesting the ongoing stay-at-home order near the Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop Friday afternoon.

On Friday, Pritzker said he would consider lifting the order before May 30th for certain regions of the state, if they see two weeks of case declines.

"I want as much as everybody else does for everybody to get back to work, and for us to move toward normalcy," Pritzker said. "But I also want to say that I'm not going to do it until we know people are safe, and it isn't going to be because some protester has a sign that says, you know, 'Liberate Illinois.'"

The governor said any region that he would consider reopening before May 30th would have to have enough hospital and ventilator capacity to handle any sudden surge in cases.
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