The number of COVID-19 cases grew by six today in Evanston to 55, while the total number of confirmed cases across Illinois rose by 673 to 2,538.

Skokie reported 10 more cases, for a total of 51. Chicago reported 246 new cases for a total of 1161.

The percentage of Skokie residents with confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands at 0.080%, for the first time surpassing the rate in Evanston, which now stands at 0.073%.

The number of cases in Chicago is equivalant to 0.034% of Chicago residents confirmed to have the disease.

The count of novel coronaviruse-related deaths in Evanston and Skokie remained at one each, but the number of deaths in Chicago increased by four to a total of nine.

Across the state the most recent deaths included a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s. About 87 percent of the 26 total fatalities in Illinois have involved patients 60 years of age or older.

Thirty-seven of Illinois’ 102 counties are now reporting COVID-19 cases.

At his news conference this afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the formation of a new Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, chaired by his sister, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, to raise money to help non-profit groups respond to the pandemic.

Penny Pritzker said that the fund had raised $23 million in just a few days. “I’m blown away by so many people answering the call in the last few days to create this effort,” she said. “Everyone who was asked signed on immediately to help.”

In reponse to a reporter’s question, the governor said he and his wife have contributed $2 million to the fund and their family foundation has given another $2 million.

Also at the news conference, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin praised the bi-partisan effort that led to the 96-0 approval by the Senate of a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill late Wednesday. He said he hoped the legislation would gain final approval by the House, perhaps as early as Friday.

He said the bill, among other features, would offer what amounts to a Marshall Fund for health care, to help hospitals respond to challenges the likes of which they’ve never seen before.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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