“It’s not a hoax”; Illinois officials warn of second wave as state reports record death toll
May 13, 2020
Over the past 24 hours, Illinois state health officials reported 192 deaths and 1, 677 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. In total, the state of Illinois confirmed 84,698 cases of COVID-19 and 3,792 subsequent deaths as of May 13.
According to Illinois Director of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike, all age groups remain susceptible to COVID-19. “It’s not a hoax and people need to take it very seriously,” said Ezike. “Please continue to stay home. Please maintain physical separation or social distancing. Please wear your mask.”
Specifically citing healthcare workers, first responders and critical infrastructure employees, Ezike encouraged all essential workers to take advantage of the state’s expanding testing capacity. “Testing is one of the keys to reopening the state safely so we can avoid a second wave.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker followed Ezike by declaring the state’s renewed efforts toward combating the adverse effects of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Measures aimed at protecting nursing and veterans’ home populations include visitation restrictions and increased testing among staff and residents.
“Since expanding testing in Illinois, we’ve worked to prioritize testing at our long-term care facilities,” said Pritzker. The Illinois governor described the initiative as both reactive and proactive in nature, hoping to isolate those infected with COVID-19 prior to the widespread transmission of the virus.
Illinois state officials distributed over 30,000 tests among state facilities through efforts from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and a contractual partnership with Quest Diagnostics.
Pritzker also touched on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) teamed with IDPH to initiate a “somewhat unprecedented effort” to directly deliver PPE shipments to long-term health facilities.
According to Pritzker, since April 30, the collaboration delivered PPE to more than 85% of long-term care facilities. The remaining shipments, each containing PPE for managing 200 residents, are expected over the next few days.
Included in the shipments are KN95 and N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, face shields, hand sanitizer and shoe coverings. Furthermore, in an effort to extend the effectiveness of PPEs, Pritzker announced a free mask decontamination system.
“I want to remind nursing home facilities and their associations that to maximize the use of PPE, we’ve made available to them our new N95 mask decontamination system to stretch their PPE stocks further,” said Pritzker.
“This is a fully free service door-to-door. FedEx is handling the transport of masks from facilities to the decontamination site and back again. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is covering all of the costs of using that system.”
Using the mask decontamination system, N95 face masks can be decontaminated up to 20 times without eroding its performance standards.
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