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Number Of Illinois Coronavirus Deaths Surpasses 2,500

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The number of coronavirus deaths in Illinois surpassed 2,500 Saturday, with 105 new deaths reported in the prior 24 hours.

At Gov. JB Pritzker's daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said there have been 2,559 deaths from COVID-19.

Ezike also repored 2,450 new cases Saturday out of 15,028 tests, for a total of 58,505 confirmed cases.

Ezike emphasized that social distancing is working to fight the novel coronavirus, and reminded everyone to stick with it – even when adults and children alike are getting antsy. She also reminded people to walk and keep getting physical activity so as to keep their blood sugar and blood pressure down.

A reporter asked Pritzker why there were so many new cases after weeks of people staying home. The governor said that figure is a function of more testing, not of the problem getting worse.

"It really is a function of doing more testing, and what you find is a lower infection rate," he said.

The infection rate has dropped from 21 to 22 percent to the high teens, Pritzker said.

The gross number of cases per day, he said, "really isn't any indication of much other than we've done more testing."

Pritzker also emphasized the need for masks and face coverings when in public and not able to maintain social distancing.

"It may be the most important thing you can do to save other people's lives…. If everybody does it; if everybody goes out and takes a mask with them…. Then you are protecting other people," Pritzker said.

Meanwhile Saturday, Gov. Pritzker focused on the threats faced by victims of domestic violence who are at particular risk during the stay-at-home order. He noted that the state's Department of Human Services is offering three-month advances and additional funding to provide enhanced support from those who have experienced domestic violence.

He said it is more important than ever to look out for our neighbors, and reminded people of the state's Domestic Violence Hotline at (877) TO-END-DV (863-6338).

Pritzker was joined Saturday by Neha Gill of the organization Apna Ghar, which provides outreach efforts to end gender violence – with a focus on refugees and marginalized communities.

Gill said many adults and children suffering from domestic violence live in the ZIP codes that are hit hardest by coronavirus. She said Apna Ghar is working on setting up safe housing options such as apartments and hotel rooms, and providing those in need of shelter with food and transportation, household essentials, financial assistance, face masks, and hand sanitizers.

Also joining Pritzker on Saturday was Jahmal Cole of My Block, My Hood, My City. He emphasized the need for hope and direction for young people – both during the pandemic and after it is over.

Cole told the story of one teenager who made a point of keeping his cellphone unlocked, out of fear that if he got shot and killed, police would have a way to contact loved ones.

"That living in constant fear and being sensitized to danger – that's something he deals with every day when he walked to school," Cole said.

Cole emphasized that both the pandemic and the constant threat of violence that some experience in Chicago are suffering from stress from a critical threat to their safety.

"You can't create when you don't feel safe," Cole said. "You can't be dope when you don't got no hope."

Cole also directed a message to the young person who threw a party on the West Side that attracted a crowd in violation of the stay-at-home order, and went viral on Facebook Live. He suggested that the young person had created a flier for the party using impressive graphic design skills, and could go into event planning rather than throwing parties that put people in danger.

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