Coronavirus Update: Illinois' COVID-19 cases top 40K as state ramps up testing; health officials warn against ingesting disinfectants

Sunday, April 26, 2020
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State health officials confirmed Saturday a spike in calls to the Illinois Poison Center after President Trump suggested injecting disinfectant to fight COVID-19.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Illinois increases its testing across the state, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surpassed 40,000.

Illinois health officials announced 2,119 new COVID-19 cases and 80 additional deaths on Saturday. There are now 41,777 cases confirmed in the state, and a death toll of 1,874.

"Over the last 24 hours, we ran 11,985 tests," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Saturday. "We have been ramping up testing. This will allow us to make more informed decisions moving forward."

On Friday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that Illinois surpassed its goal of conducting 10,000 COVID-19 tests in a day for the first time. It's a critical milestone in the state's marathon battle against coronavirus.

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

In total, Illinois has conducted more than 201,000 COVID-19 tests. But not every type of test is supported by the state.

State health officials confirmed Saturday that there's been a spike in calls to the Illinois Poison Center after President Trump suggested injecting disinfectant to fight COVID-19.

Dr. Ezike urged residents to listen to scientists and health experts about how to stay healthy during the pandemic.

"Injecting, ingesting, snorting household cleaners is dangerous. It is not advised and can be deadly," Dr. Ezike said over the weekend.

President Trump recommended disinfectants as a possible treatment for the virus during Thursday's White House briefing. On Friday, he walked back his remarks, claiming he was being sarcastic.

But poison centers across the country are reporting a spike in calls, including in Illinois where it's up 60% compared to the same time frame last year.

"Some recent examples is the use of the detergent solution for a sinus rinse and gargling with a bleach and mouthwash mixture in an attempt to kill coronavirus," Dr. Ezike said.

Dr. Michael Wahl of the Illinois Poison Center said, "When we think of cleaning products designed to clean your bathroom, they are going to be caustic. They are going to cause damage and injury to the tissues whether it is in your lungs, or in your nose or in your mouth."

The makers of Clorox and Lyson are telling consumers not to consume their products.

Also on Saturday, Gov. Pritzker confirmed that alterations, including removing beds, are being made to McCormick Place.

The governor said he's expecting the state will need fewer beds than originally planned.

Many businesses and residents are readying for Pritzker's modified stay-at-home order to take effect next week.

It begins on May 1 and will remain through the end of the month. The original stay-at-home order was set to expire on April 30.

ZIP CODE TRACKER: Where is coronavirus in Illinois?

A key component of the modified order is a face covering requirement for public places, including stores.

Starting next Friday, it will be mandatory for all residents over the age of 2 to wear a mask in public places, such as stores and other spaces where it's not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance.

Some business owners are concerned about angry confrontations if customers without face coverings are turned away.

"Just like with everything else, you're not allowed to go into a restaurant without wearing shoes," Pritzker said earlier this week.

He added, "So it's perfectly acceptable to tell people that you're not allowed in if you're not wearing a face mask."

The new order allows some non-essential businesses to take phone and online orders for pick-up and delivery beginning in May.

"This would be perfect for the stores at Water Tower, 900 North, The Shops at North Bridge, where they especially have the ability to set aside a loading zone, a pick-up area," said Kimberly Bares, president and CEO of The Magnificent Mile Association.

Retailers like clothing stores and book stores will begin the slow process of calling some workers back and partially reopening.

"They have been hit so hard, and this is something that I believe is going to at least put an employee back on or allow the owner to be able to get a little money in their pocket," said Maureen Martino, executive director of the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.

Retail stores could have modified hours and still may not be open seven days a week.

WATCH: Some Illinois businesses prepare to reopen under modified stay-at-home order

Garden centers will be able to open just in time for the busy planting season.

At Platt Hill Nursery in Bloomingdale, they are loaded with blooming plants and trees ready to find permanent homes.

They normally do about a third of their business for the entire year in May.

"It's definitely our busiest time of the year, we're excited but it's going to be a difficult and trying time," said Graham Hill.

WATCH: Here's why Illinois is extending its stay-at-home order

At Crystal Lake Country Club, they're looking forward to big crowds anxious to get out of the house for a few hours.

"We believe golf is a good way to get people out of the house," said General Manager Bob Botod. "We have been working on this for several weeks."

The country club's management is still determining exactly what social distancing guidelines will be in place when golfers return in a week.

The goal will be to prevent the spread of germs, and they said they're ready.

"It's going to be safe, I think when we get the right guidelines together and people understand how to social distance I think that plan will make it a lot safer," said golf pro David Thompson.

Even though things will be a little different on the golf course next week, golfers said they are excited to return no matter what the new normal means.

WATCH: Pritzker's team of experts explain science behind extended stay-at-home order

After extending the state's stay-at-home order through May, Gov. Pritzker is hoping for, but not promising, a June reopening of the state.

"The new normal that's going to occur at the end of May, or that is occurring even now, but we're evolving into new normal, is something that we're going to have to figure out as we go because the researchers, honestly, are still figuring it out," Pritzker said earlier this week.

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


Gov. Pritzker Announces Modified Stay at Home Order Will Be Extended Through May to Continue Progress

Based on data from scientists and health experts and after consulting with stakeholders across the state, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he will sign a modified version of the state's stay at home order that will go into effect on May 1 to continue the life-saving progress made over the last month while also allowing residents additional in the safest way possible.In conjunction with today's announcement, the Governor released modeling today put together by top academic institutions and researchers in Illinois that predicts the course of coronavirus in the state over the coming months. On our current trajectory, the state is projected to see a peak or plateau of deaths per day between late April and early May, but if the stay at home order were lifted this week, the model anticipates a second wave of the outbreak in Illinois starting in May, which would claim tens of thousands of lives and greatly exceed the state's hospital capacity."Make no mistake, Illinois has saved lives. By staying home and social distancing, we have kept our infection and death rates for the months of March and April thousands below the rates projected had we not implemented these mitigation strategies," said Governor JB Pritzker. "I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we've made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working - and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job."MODIFIED STAY AT HOME ORDERLifting mitigation measures is only possible with widespread availability and access to COVID-19 testing, tracing and treatment. The data show that if the state were to lift mitigations abruptly this week, this would result in a second wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.After consulting with doctors, scientists and experts in Illinois and across the world, the Governor has announced he will sign a modified version of the state's stay at home order that will go into effect on May 1 and extend through the end of the month. The modified order will strengthen the state's social distancing requirements while allowing residents additional flexibility and provide measured relief to non-essential businesses in the safest way possible.The new executive order will include the following modifications effective May 1:OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website HERE . Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.NEW ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open.NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can't maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND MANUFACTURING: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.SCHOOLS: Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.The Illinois Department of Public Health will also be issuing guidance to surgi-centers and hospitals to allow for certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, starting on May 1. Facilities will need to meet specific criteria, including proper PPE, ensuring enough overall space for COVID-19 patients remains available, and testing of elective surgery patients to ensure COVID-19 negative status.MODELING COVID-19 IN ILLINOISWhile earlier projections relied on data from other countries applied to the United States, the modeling released today analyzes two months' worth of daily data on COVID-19 deaths and ICU usage here in Illinois.Top researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Northwestern School of Medicine, the University of Chicago, the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public Health, along with McKinsey and Mier Consulting Group working on behalf of the City of Chicago and Cook County, worked on these projections as a cohort under Civis Analytics, a data analytics firm with experience spanning the public and private sectors.According to the state model, the stay at home order is having its intended effect of flattening the curve in Illinois.Without the stay at home order, the model estimates there would have been 10 to 20 times as many deaths to date and that the peak death rate and peak resource usage would have been 20 to 30 times what we will see with mitigation. Moreover, these counts do not account for deaths due to lack of access to health resources, so the actual number would likely have been even higher.If the stay at home order were lifted this week, death rates and hospitalizations would start rising sharply by the middle of May. It's projected that the peak death rate and peak resource needs would be almost as high as if there were never any mitigation measures put in place. Over the course of the current outbreak, the model estimates there would be 5 to 10 times more deaths than we would see if we continued mitigation.

In either of the above scenarios, as much as half of the state's population could be infected with COVID-19 at once, which would overwhelm the health care system and result in more deaths.As a further caution against relaxing mitigations without carefully considering the consequences, the model estimates that the number of infectious people is likely similar in size to when the order began. Even as hospitalizations and deaths are starting to decrease, there are still enough active cases to lead to a second wave. Fortunately, the stay at home order has prevented most of the population from becoming sick, but that also means that most of the population remains vulnerable to the virus.Maintaining our current vigilance to controlling this outbreak is crucial. Models contributed by UIUC and UChicago project a peak or plateau of daily fatalities between late April and early May. The median and range of daily deaths, within a 95% confidence interval, are illustrated below.Both of these projections indicate that after the peak, we should expect it will take longer for deaths to decline to pre-epidemic levels than it took for them to rise, underscoring the importance of staying the course over the coming weeks and months.