By the time you finish reading this article, another 15 Illinois residents will be infected with the coronavirus

By the time you finish reading this article, another 15 Illinois residents will be infected with the coronavirus

Residents wait in line to get tested at the COVID-19 testing site at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village earlier this month. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

In the first 20 days of November, 216,422 new COVID-19 cases have been reported across Illinois — or a new infection roughly every 8 seconds.

Illinois reported another 13,012 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 infections on Friday, pushing the state’s total number of cases diagnosed in November to 216,422.

That means the first 20 days of this month saw nearly as many cases as the entire first seven months of the pandemic.

November has averaged more than 10,821 new cases each day — or a new infection roughly every 8 seconds.

Friday’s daily caseload – the state’s third highest since the first Illinois case was reported in late January – came on a day when 126 deaths were also reported. That’s down a bit from the fatality counts of the previous two days but up sharply from October’s mortality counts.

Friday also marked the first day of new statewide restrictions aimed at curbing the resurgence of the coronavirus.

“The core philosophy here is that if we all stay home as much as possible — if we all avoid the trips outside the house that we don’t need to take right now — we can fight this recent surge and turn things around for our health care workers and hospital systems who are facing an increasingly dangerous situation, across the state,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at his Friday briefing on the virus.

Test site workers handle test samples from residents in vehicles at the COVID-19 testing site at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village earlier this month.Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file
Test site workers handle test samples from residents in vehicles at the COVID-19 testing site at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village earlier this month.

“And, we can potentially pull back on these mitigations for everyone before the December holidays.”

As of Thursday night, 6,111 people were hospitalized around the state with COVID-19. Of that number, 1,196 patients were in intensive care units and 604 were on ventilators.

Statewide, there are 618 beds in intensive care units available of a possible 3,313 beds — there are 3,984 ventilators available statewide of 5,657.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the state’s public health department, reflected on the “evolution of the pandemic,” saying that during the “dreadful” early days of the virus people called and checked on each other and stayed home to reduce the spread of the virus.

With a resurgence of COVID-19, she urged the state’s residents to tap into those old feelings and “be kind.”

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike during a daily COVID-19 update earlier this month.Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike during a daily COVID-19 update earlier this month.

“All of us can’t wait to put this year 2020 in the rearview mirror,” Ezike said. “Until then, let’s make decisions with … what we can see right now. I ask for all of us to have patience and compassion for those with whom we may disagree, to understand that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone. Nobody is getting through this unscathed. … This is a traumatizing, mass casualty experience for all of us.”

On Thursday, health officials reported 14,612 new cases, the second-highest daily case count the state has seen since the pandemic began. There were also 168 deaths, the third-highest death toll for the state.

A week earlier, Illinois reported a record 15,415 new infections on Nov. 13, which is more new cases than any other state had logged in a single day since the pandemic began more than eight months ago.

One week before the Thanksgiving holiday, Pritzker said Thursday that the state was beginning to see “a hint of leveling” in new coronavirus cases and test positivity rates, but cautioned residents shouldn’t take that to mean it is safe to have Thanksgiving dinner with guests from outside their households.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines sits empty and temporarily closed as Illinois’ Tier 3 mitigations took effect to curb the spread of COVID-19 on Friday.Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file
Rivers Casino in Des Plaines sits empty and temporarily closed as Illinois’ Tier 3 mitigations took effect to curb the spread of COVID-19 on Friday.

As of Friday, the state is in Tier 3 of Pritzker’s mitigation plan, which means residents can expect a 25% capacity limit at big-box stores and other retailers as well as the usual 50% capacity limit at grocery stores.

Museums, theaters and casinos across Illinois will be closed as part of the plan in an effort to curb the spread of the virus

Pritzker has previously said his enhanced guidelines boil down to a simple idea: “If you don’t need to do it, don’t.”

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