Gov. JB Pritzker has announced the first COVID-19 death in Illinois.
“I’m deeply saddened to share news that I’ve dreaded since the early days of this outbreak: the first COVID-19 related death in Illinois,” Pritzker said Tuesday afternoon during his daily briefing.
The victim was a Chicago woman in her 60s with an underlying health condition, state officials said. The woman was exposed to the virus from another person who had previously tested positive for the virus.
Officials announced 55 new cases of COVID-19. As of Tuesday afternoon, Illinois has 160 confirmed cases in 15 counties.
Those cases include an outbreak at Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in west suburban Willowbrook. On Saturday, a patient at the facility tested positive. As a result, all of the residents and staff at the nursing home were tested. A total of 22 people — 18 residents and four staff members — tested positive for COVID-19.
The staff and residents who tested positive have been isolated either at the facility or the hospital. Visitors have been restricted.
Pritzker stressed the importance of having access to tests. He blamed the federal government for not providing enough resources.
“This situation reinforces just how critical it is, especially for our vulnerable populations, that we get approvals and supplies from the federal government so that we can test large groups of vulnerable people earlier than we are able now,” Pritzker said. “My team and I have been on the phone, day and night, communicating with the medical testing supply chain. But the federal government is monopolizing supplies and not providing them to the states. They set deadlines, and they blew through them. They told us capacity would increase, and it hasn’t.”
The governor was visibly angry with the federal response to the outbreak, calling it “an incredible failure.”
“I’ve requested, and now I’m demanding, that the White House, FDA and the CDC produce a rapid increase in test deployment nationwide or get out of the way and allow us to obtain them elsewhere ourselves,” Pritzker said.
Officials said the numbers will continue to grow because more tests are becoming available.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the state would not tolerate price gouging for materials residents will need during the outbreak.
“My staff is working tirelessly to investigate and attempt to mediate such allegations throughout the state,” he said. “I strongly urge all businesses to maintain fair pricing on all items, especially of those that are crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
María Ines Zamudio is a reporter for WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow her @mizamudio.