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Previous story llinois matches highest single-day death total from COVID-19, ending difficult week in battle against virus Next story
Published on April 19, 2020 4:08 AM

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Illinois ended a grim week in its battle against COVID-19 on Saturday, as state officials announced 125 more deaths and 1,585 new confirmed cases.The daily death total tied Thursdays record for a single day. From Sunday through Saturday, the state recorded 583 deaths, nearly half of the total number of dead since the state began tracking.

In one week, officials said Illinois saw 9,980 new cases about a third of the total cases confirmed since the outbreaks start.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the states top physician, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, struck a balance between acknowledging the dire numbers and reassuring Illinoisans that governmental restrictions were moderating the steep climb in cases and deaths.

Both said they did not believe the state had reached a peak in cases, which have topped 29,000 and continue to rise. But they focused on the causes for hope.

Although our numbers continue to climb, it is with some guarded optimism that we say that the growth is slowing," Ezike said at Saturdays regular news conference. That is definitely a good thing, but we must continue to be strong and hold the line.

Pritzker, a frequent critic of President Donald Trumps response to the crisis, offered guarded praise for parts of the administrations three-phase plan for an economic recovery.

Still, he said he would not quickly lift restrictions in response to protests that built during the week as some pressed governments to move back to regular operations. Asked whether he was feeling the heat to reopen the state, he said he didnt know what it means to feel the heat.

Im listening to the scientists and the doctors. I dont feel any heat. I listen to the people who know and who have informed opinions about what we ought to do, he said.

I want to get there as fast as anybody does. We want people to get back to work. We want people to get back to their lives, he said. As he has previously, Pritzker framed his choice as one between saving livelihoods and saving lives.

Throughout the week, there were bracing reports of deaths at Illinois nursing homes, including a home in Joliet that reported 23 deaths.

The state has not been posting reports of cases or deaths at individual locations housing the elderly on its website, but Pritzker said Saturday that health officials would start publishing more information. He said he was frustrated by outbreaks in facilities and that the state was deploying strike teams to assess practices at hard-hit nursing homes.

Worries about the states tenuous financial condition came alongside the bad medical news of the week. On Thursday, Pritzker said he expected the coronavirus pandemic will leave a 2.7 billion hole in this years state budget and create an even larger gap next year. On Friday, a Wall Street credit rating agency downgraded Illinois debt to a notch above junk status.

On Saturday, Pritzker said he was not aware of the ...