Regional differences; Coronavirus impact on nursing homes

Public Health figures show disparities between regions of the state

At the start of this week, there had been 77,741 confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois, spread between 98 of the state’s 102 counties. There had been 3406 deaths statewide. Illinois laboratories had processed 429,984 tests, and lately they have been exceeding the goal of 10,000 tests per day. Survey data from the Department of Public Health indicates that 74% of those who tested positive reported no symptoms 28 days after their positive test.

The city of Chicago leads the state in the number of positive tests with 30,950, or just shy of 40% of the total statewide. Suburban Cook County has reported 21,705 cases, just under 28%. The five surrounding counties, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will combine for another 17,480 cases, which is just over 22% of the statewide total. Taken altogether, these six counties are reporting 90% of the statewide confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The five counties of the 106th District had reported a total of 174 cases by Sunday, 0.2% of the statewide total. Obviously, the majority of the cases of coronavirus are going to be in the northeastern corner of the state because that is where the majority of our population resides. But these numbers offer further proof that different conditions exist in different parts of the state. Our response, including the extent of the shutdown, should reflect these differences.

Yesterday we learned that of the initial shipment of 140 cases of the coronavirus drug remdesivir which Illinois received from the federal government, 127 cases went to Cook County. That is 90 percent: the same number as the percentage of cases found in northeastern Illinois. It makes sense that the most medications should go to the areas with the most cases. But it also makes sense that the areas of the state with the fewest cases would be the safest ones to start the process of re-opening, with the proper safety precautions.

I have been sharing stories of small businesses who are ready to re-open and who have already taken the necessary steps to do so safely. I even heard from a wedding venue owner from just outside our district who was willing to re-open for much smaller groups in order to get her doors back open and let ceremonies proceed, with appropriate safety precautions.

Yesterday Wisconsin announced a plan to re-open businesses but with less than five customers inside at a time. We too can re-open some places with appropriate cleanliness and social distancing standards. Golf courses, parks and drive-ins are already demonstrating that it is possible. We need to be considering more small businesses before it is too late.

Nearly half of coronavirus deaths in Illinois are in nursing homes

Since the beginning of this outbreak we have heard of the terrible toll coronavirus has taken on nursing home residents. According to the Department of Public Health, as of last Friday 1553 residents of nursing homes in Illinois had died of coronavirus, 48% of the total number of deaths. Well over 11,000 cases have been reported in nursing homes, and more than 50 such facilities have had at least 10 cases, including a facility in Iroquois County.

This should cause us to advance cautiously as we look for ways to safely re-open the state over the coming weeks. Though the overall danger in this area appears low, it does still exist, and we need to move forward carefully. As you go about your daily activities in the coming days and weeks, please remember those in our communities most vulnerable to these illnesses and resolve to do all you can to keep them safe.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Illinois Department of Public Health

May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Governor’s office staff to work from home for isolation period after staffer tests positive

Public Health guidance for elective surgical procedures

Executive order waives requirements for educator candidates unable to complete student teaching due to pandemic

Workplace health and safety guidance for employees and staff of businesses

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).