Illinois mail in ballot requests pass 1 million and counting
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials announced 1,403 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday along with 5 additional deaths.
The 5,368 new coronavirus cases announced Friday was the largest in Illinois since the pandemic began. The previous record was 4,014 on May 12.
Officials said the spike is a result of a slowdown in data processing which resulted in a backlog. Officials said the system has been fixed and the backlog corrected.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 249,580 with 8,171 deaths.
The preliminary seven-day positivity rate from August 30 - September 5 is 4.04%.
Within the past 24 hours, the state has processed 46,496 specimens for a total of 4,418,372.
As of Saturday night, 1,504 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 356 patients in the ICU and 134 patients on ventilators.
Health officials are warning people to take precautions while getting together with friends and family this Labor Day weekend.
Recent numbers have shown home gatherings including backyard cookouts with family and friends are now a main driver of an increase in COVID 19 numbers.
The CDC posted guidelines for the long weekend, including reminding friends and family to stay home if they are sick, encourage social distancing, host gatherings outdoors if possible, wear masks, wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer and try to limit the number of things you share.
"What we recommend at the beginning of a gathering is to announce the rules. We learn to do these things, we're gonna stay six feet apart, gonna wear masks and we're gonna wash our hands before and after a meal and I think there would be some peace if we collectively all kind of have that conversation," Cook County Chair of Family Medicine, Dr. Mark Loafman said.
More than 1 million Illinoisans have applied to vote by mail for the November election. That's roughly triple the number of the last presidential election contest in 2016. The record number during the coronavirus pandemic has left election officials scrambling to adjust. Some are hiring more staff. Some voters are also worried about the process with reports of mail delays and drop boxes not available in all parts of the state. Meanwhile, a partisan battle over the practice is making its way through the courts weeks before the first ballots are scheduled to go out later this month.
Additionally, officials said 29 counties remain at the warning level for COVID-19, but Cook County is no longer on the list.
The counties at the warning level include: Boone, Bureau, Clinton, Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Henry, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, McLean, Monroe, Pulaski, Randolph, Rock Island, Shelby, Stark, St. Clair, Union, Wabash, Warren, Williamson and Will.
College campuses across the country are dealing with the spread of COVID-19 among students, including the University of Illinois.
Chancellor Robert Jones joined ABC7 Friday morning to talk about the school's COVID-19 policies.
The university uses a saliva test that they developed.with students being tested twice a week. Chancellor Jones said there have been some delays but the school's policy is working well.
Chancellor Jones the total positivity rate is lower than the state and region.
There have been several large parties, which Chancellor Jones said has led to higher than expected numbers, but the school has taken action to crack down on the parties.
The state of Illinois paused to remember the more than 8,000 lives lost to the virus so far at a memorial service Thursday night on the University of Chicago campus.
It was a moment aimed at healing at time when how we mourn has also been taken from us.
"Even the simplest things we're not able to do anymore. A hug, a hand on a shoulder, a visit to the hospital, a trip to the nursing home, a gathering with family and friends," said Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein, Am Shalom.
The interfaith memorial service at Rockefeller Chapel honored the more than 8,000 Illinoisans who have died from coronavirus. The husband of Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc, a UIC nurse, offered a searing testimonial to loss.
"I'm still in deep grieving, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of this," said Lawrence Le Blanc, whose wife died from COVID-19.
Also honored was Lynika Strozier, a Field Museum researcher.
"They called her the scientist with the golden hands," said Sharon Wright, Strozier's grandmother.
And Ernesto Guzman, who was just 12 years old.
"Bright-eyed. Cheery smile. A spirit that never quit," said Theresa Cullen, his teacher.
It's hard to reconcile the last six months. But there was hope for a way forward at Thursday night's memorial.
"There will come a day when you can sit with the memory of the person that you lost without feeling lost yourself," Gov. JB Pritzker said. "I promise you."
There were moments of gratitude tonight as well. The son-in-law of Wally Blase, a Vietnam veteran and longtime firefighter, said his death reminded the family of what remarkable life he lived.