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Coronavirus spreads to 3 Central Illinois counties
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Coronavirus spreads to 3 Central Illinois counties

CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Saturday said coronavirus cases have now been identified in Cumberland and Woodford counties, among others.

Sixty-four Illinois residents in eight counties now have had coronavirus, an increase of 18 since Thursday, the governor said. No deaths have been reported.

The governor in a press conference called it an "unprecedented" circumstance. 

The Coles County patient was at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. Hospital spokeswoman Patty Peterson said the patient was treated in the emergency room and the Illinois Department of Public Health notified the hospital late Friday that the person was positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus

She said the patient resides in the SBLHC 10-county service area but couldn't say more about the person's residence or identity because of patient confidentiality requirements. 

Pritzker during a press conference Saturday said a resident in Cumberland County tested positive for the virus. The person is identified as a resident in his 70s. 

The person is self-quarantining as a result of the test results, Peterson said.

Later on Saturday, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health said a patient admitted at Memorial Medical Center ​in Springfield tested positive for COVID-19. The patient is critically ill and in intensive care, the agency said.

Pritzker on Friday also ordered the closing of every school in the state until March 30 starting Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

On Thursday, Pritzker mandated the cancellation of events of more than 1,000 people and encouraged organizers of events with at least 250 attendees to cancel on their own.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to be over it.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight the outbreak. 

Pritzker on Saturday said they will file a federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage as COVID-19 continues to spread.

“With the federal government’s newly declared state of emergency, under the Stafford Act my administration is filing a request for a federal waiver to allow our Medicaid program," he said.

If the federal waiver is approved, the state will be able to expand Medicaid services through the addition of new medical providers, increased access across the state and ramped up services to many of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

Pritzker also urged residents to stay home if possible. He said people may be infected but not feel the serious symptoms for weeks, but will be spreading the illness. 

"Please, please do the right thing for your community, for your friends and for your family," he said. 

"You could be a carrier yourself," he added later. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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