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Pritzker Teams Up With 6 Midwest Governors To Coordinate Plans To Reopen Regional Economy; 25,733 COVID-19 Cases, 1,072 Deaths In Illinois

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As Illinois surpassed 1,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus on Thursday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced he was teaming up with the governors of six other Midwest states to determine how best to reopen the economy while still protecting people from another surge of COVID-19 cases.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said Illinois has seen 1,140 new cases of the virus, including 125 deaths in the past day -- the most COVID-19 fatalities in a 24-hour period so far in Illinois.

"These are family members and loved ones, neighbors and friends. Today we mourn with their communities and we offer them our solace and our strength in this very difficult time," Pritzker said.

Illinois now has a total of 25,733 cases, including 1,072 deaths, in 90 counties. A total 122,589 people in Illinois have been tested for COVID-19 so far.

"You can see that we still have many new cases, and unfortunately many lives that continue to be lost, but running together we will still beat this COVID-19. We are on the right track. We are not over this, but we will," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

As the state continues efforts to slow the spread of the disease, Pritzker said he is partnering with his fellow governors in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Minnesota to coordinate efforts to reopen the Midwest economy. Two other neighboring states – Iowa and Missouri – are not part of the agreement. Iowa has yet to implement a "stay at home" order, and Missouri did not enact a statewide order until early April, weeks after other Midwest states.

"Each state will design its own plan, but with shared priorities: the ability to test and trace on a widespread basis, holding down infection and hospitalization rates, enhancing healthcare capacity to handle a potential resurgence, and a continued emphasis on social distancing in the workplace and elsewhere," Pritzker said.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday extended his state's "stay at home" order by a month, through May 26, while Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said some businesses in his state could start opening in phases beginning May 1. The "stay at home" order in Illinois remains in place through April 30, but Pritzker has suggested it might be extended as well. However, Pritzker said just because one neighboring state might extend certain restrictions doesn't mean every state in the Midwest agreement will follow suit.

"I certainly look at what they're doing, and I listen to them; they listen to me, they ask me questions along the way; and each of us have taken ideas from one another. I think what we're trying to do with the collaborative effort together is to make sure that we're using similar criteria," he said. "To the extent that other states are looking at opening certain kinds of businesses on certain dates, obviously we have different economies across these states. We share a lot in common, however, and so a lot of the ideas that we each have about our state are applicable to one another."

Pritzker said part of the decision will be whether or not the state is doing enough testing for the virus, and whether they are doing enough contact tracing. He said Illinois is not yet where he'd like to be in the number of tests being conducted, and is just now ramping up contact tracing efforts.

The governor also provided an update on the state's effort to obtain supplies of personal protective equipment. Pritzker said all 102 counties in Illinois have received shipments of PPE from the state stockpile.

According to Pritzker, Illinois has sent out more than 10 million pieces of PPE; including approximately 5 million surgical masks, 1.5 million N95 masks, 20,000 gowns, 4 million gloves, 200,000 face shields. He also said the state is expecting more orders of PPE to arrive in coming weeks, including 27 million N95 and KN95 masks, 25 million surgical and disposable masks, 8.4 million gowns and coveralls, 23.5 million gloves, and 7.5 million face shields.

"It's vitally important that we keep the PPE supplies flowing for our first responders, our healthcare professionals, and our frontline workers," he said.

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