Coronavirus Illinois: COVID-19 cases top 94K with over 4K deaths

CHICAGO (WLS) -- City and state leaders have warned against it, but some Chicago area churches still planned to have in-person service Sunday, defying the governor's stay at home order, as the state's COVID-19 case count surpassed 94,000.

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

Illinois health officials announced 51 additional deaths and 1,734 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That brings the statewide total to 94,191, including 4,177 deaths.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 20,295 specimens for a total of 581,944. The statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate is 15%.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has reached out to city churches that planned to reopen Sunday and is making clear she has no problem enforcing the stay-at-home order.

"We've been in contact with those churches, both by letter but also in contact with other leaders and tried to engage them in conversation rather than being in conflict," she said.

Cars lined up early Saturday morning at a Chatham movie theater, just one of four new drive-up testing sites in the state. The Chatham testing site is located in the parking lot of Studio Movie Grill, 210 W. 87th St., Chicago. The site is able to handle 750 tests per day, according to an Illinois Army National Guard official.

Friday Gov. JB Pritzker said every region of the state continued to meet the positivity rate benchmark, including the Chicago area.

Friday's positivity rate for May 5 through May 12 was 12%.

The positivity rate, or rate of positive COVID-19 tests, is a critical metric in Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan, and now the northeast region is hitting its mark. Dipping just below 20% over a 14-day average is a requirement for getting to the next phase of reopening.

A week after hitting a critical testing milestone, officials said they've been able to maintain it. The state is launching four new drive-up testing sites.

Coronavirus testing: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, Chicago area

Officials are looking to expand testing of pregnant women who are arriving at hospitals for delivery, saying symptoms arising from labor can mimic or hide symptoms of COVID-19.

"Early data from hospitals in Illinois that have already implemented universal screening of women admitted for labor show a positivity rate of anywhere from 3 percent to 12 percent," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, IDPH director.

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The governor said if positivity percentages hold, the whole state will be able to move onto Phase 3 of reopening On May 29.

All four regions of the state remain poised to move to Phase 3 of the governor's reopening plan on May 29. At that point, hair salons and barbershops can reopen with capacity limits and restrictions, as can offices, manufacturing and retailers.

The lights have been off at Chicago's Ambra Salon for almost two months in compliance with the governor's orders. Stylist Paolo Bivona is anxious to get back to work.

"We can be more than 6 feet apart; we have more than adequate room to do each client safely," he said.

Child care facilities and summer youth programs will also be able to reopen with limits, and fitness and health clubs can offer outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training only. Gatherings of 10 people or fewer will be allowed. The mask order remains in effect, as does e-learning and as much teleworking as possible.

"I want to reopen as fast as everybody else does," Pritzker said. "But I want to be clear: you get a group of people together in a space and there is potential for spread, and we are trying to avoid that."

Restore Illinois: 5-phase reopening plan by Governor Pritzker splits IL into 4 regions

Pritzker is hoping the entire state can stay on track to move into Phase 3 by May 29. And while Bivona is looking forward to getting a paycheck again, he admits he's worried about being exposed.

"We are going to be taking some risk because we are going to be letting people in," he said.

If every region stays on track to move into Phase 3 by May 29, it will be another 28 days until Phase 4 can begin, which includes dine-in service at restaurants and gatherings of no more than 50 people.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has created a hotline at 1-800-889-3931. More information can be found at the IDPH website and the Chicago Department of Public Health website
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