CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker announced Saturday that another 125 people have died of the novel coronavirus in Illinois, tying a single-day record earlier in the week.
There were also 125 deaths on Thursday.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said there were also 1,585 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed over the past day – bringing the total to 29,160 cases and 1,259 deaths statewide.
"Although our numbers continue to climb, it is with some guarded optimism that we say the growth is slowing," Ezike said. "That is definitely a good thing, but we must continue to be strong and hold the line."
In touting increased testing particularly in downstate Illinois, Ezike emphasized that more testing will mean more positive cases will be identified, but it is also necessary to get an accurate picture of the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pritzker emphasized that telehealth programs are available to allow COVID-19 patients who do not have to go to the hospital to recover safely from their homes. Patients will receive daily virtual visits, and thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and alcohol wipes will be available.
In Northern Illinois, the state is newly partnering for the effort with Advocate Aurora Health Care. They can be reached at (866) 443-2584.
Pritzker also highlighted an assortment of organizations around the state that are reaching out to help during the pandemic.
Among them are Urban Autism Solutions, which is offering virtual meetups for adults with autism; W&W Towing in Dixmoor, which has enlisted drivers to deliver care packages to seniors on Chicago's South Side and in the south suburbs, and Family Focus in Aurora, which is redirecting some focus on connecting families with state services.
He also touted the Red Cross, which was slated to hold its annual Heroes Breakfast next week, but it had to be canceled because of the coronavirus. But the Red Cross will instead feature its most extraordinary 2020 class of heroes on its social media pages.
"That's the thing about Illinois," Pritzker said. "Everywhere you look, there are people stepping in to fill the gaps in other people's lives."
As CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reported, there is also a growing push to track where nursing home deaths are happening in Illinois. Nursing home patients are dying of COVID-19 at an alarming rate.
Long-term care facilities have been in the spotlight in the last few days, after the deaths of 22 residents and one staffer at the Symphony of Joliet assisted living facility – which were attributed to COVID-19.
A total of 16 residents of Symphony have tested positive and were being treated inside the 200-bed facility as of Saturday. Another 37 residents have tested negative and have been moved to different facilities.
"We have had direct assistance given to Symphony – I know that, you know, reviewing of all the infection control protocols; making sure that people know how to properly don and doff PPE, making sure that the pre-shift assessment so there's a full survey that can be reviewed to make sure you identify the areas of weakness, and then, you know, try to identify where IDPH can specifically support," Ezike said.
Ezike said a strike team was sent to Symphony to analyze what happened and see what can be learned from a nursing home that accounts for more than 20 percent of the total COVID-19 deaths in Will County.
Pritzker was asked Saturday whether he planned to extend the stay-at-home order – which is currently set to expire at the end of April – and when he planned to make a decision on it.
"We're looking at it now," Pritzker said. "It's something that you have to look at all the numbers and have all the terms in making a decision about whether, and if so for how long and under what conditions," Pritzker said.
CBS 2's Puccinelli noted that an Associated Press story had reported that governors are "feeling the heat" to reopen their economies as President Donald Trump focuses on it.
To that, Pritzker said he is listening to the science and the doctors on the subject.
Pritzker said to move forward under Trump's plan, the state must pass its peak in terms of infections – which has not yet happened – and see 14 days of declining cases afterward.
for more features.