Recording the most COVID-19 deaths since late May, Illinois public health officials Wednesday recommended residents work from home and avoid all but essential travel for the next three weeks.
The advice doesn’t carry the weight of an executive order from Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, but it represents the starkest signal since the spring that the coronavirus is spreading uncontrollably statewide.
The new advice comes as the state released a new batch of COVID-19 data Wednesday, showing a daily record-breaking 12,657 new cases and 145 deaths during the past 24 hours. That includes a seventh victim at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home about 95 miles southwest of Chicago.
The guidance issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health urges employers to permit workers to do their jobs from home during the next three weeks, when possible, “so businesses and schools can remain open.”
The agency encouraged Illinoisans to leave home only to go to work, get groceries, go to the pharmacy or obtain a COVID-19 test. Additionally, travel to coronavirus hotspots and small gatherings that mix families are discouraged and described by state public health officials as “potentially dangerous.”
Illinois has seen more new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last seven days than any other state in the nation, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The state has seen nearly 75,000 new cases in the last week, with 484 deaths over the same time period. Illinois now ranks No. 2 in the country for COVID-19 deaths in the past week, behind Texas.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus-positive cases now sits at 523,840 since the beginning of the pandemic, representing 4% of Illinois’ current population. The overall COVID-19 death toll in Illinois has now reached 10,434.
Dave McKinney covers Illinois politics and government for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @davemckinney.