Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a statewide shelter-in-place order today as Evanston city officials announced that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city rose from 14 to 21.

Pritzker said one more person, a Cook County woman in her 70s, has died of COVID-19 in Illinois, raising the statewide death toll to five.

The state now has 585 confirmed COVID-19 cases, an increase of 163 from Thursday.

State officials say cases have now been reported in 25 Illinois counties and that persons infected have ranged in age from 3 to 99.

There’ve now been 411 confirmed cases in Cook County.

More than 1,000 additional tests for the virus have been conducted within the past day, raising the total tested to 4,286. The percentage of tests coming back with positive results is running at just under 14 percent.

Pritzker said that for people who have been following the voluntary guidance to stay home and practice social distancing, the new order will have very little impact.

The order takes effect at 5 p.m. Saturday and is scheduled to last through April 7, although Pritzker indicated it may need to be extended. That also means schools will remain closed for an extra week.

“There’s no need to rush out to the grocery store or gas stations,” he said, adding that those and other essential services would remain available.

He said service businesses from plumbers to laundromats would also remain open, and that people could still take a walk in the park or pick up dinner from local restaurants.

But businesses the state deemed non-essential would have to close — or arrange for employees to work from home.

The order, he suggested, is aimed at bringing people who’ve been ignoring the advice into compliance.

“We don’t have the resources, capaicity or desire to police everybody’s behavior,” Pritzker said, but he indicated that police would be monitoring for violations and could take action when necessary.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the state is working to increase testing capacity at hospital facilities and working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens to set up drive-thru testing sites in the hardest hit areas of the state.

Those facilities, she said, will focus on senior citizens, first responders and health care workers.

She said the state has been working with other jurisdictions and businesses to re-open recently closed hospitals — doing assessments at four sites to determine the current condition of the facility, medical resources available, staffing levels and what else is needed to open these facilities to provide medical care for individuals with COVID-19.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What is their current status.

    Hi Bill Smith – Do you have any information as to the status of the 21 infected Evanston residents.  Are they in the hospital? In intesive care? At home recovering?   Also what is the capacity of the local hospitals.  How many coronavirus patients can they handle at any one time.

    1. Local cases

      Hi Dan,

      My understanding is most of the Evanston residents affected are self-quarantined at home.

      When that question was asked at the governor’s press conference this afternoon regarding the situation statewide, the state health director said she didn’t have the information at hand, but would try to provide it soon, perhaps at tomorrow’s news conference.

      Chicago’s health department today put out an information sheet saying that, so far, 51% of COVID-19 patients identified there never needed hospitalization, 36.2% of cases are “under investigation” and only 12.5% have ever been hospitalized (with some portion of those having already been released).

      It also says that roughly half of those hospitalized were 60 years of age or older — the other half were between 18 and 59.

      I don’t have a number for how many COVID-19 cases the hospitals can handle. It would depend a lot on the rest of their patient load, the available equipment and whether additional facilities are made available (by reopening closed hospitals, setting up field hospitals, converting unused hotel rooms to hospital rooms, etc.)

      — Bill

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