- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2020

CHICAGO (AP) - As concerns mount that Thanksgiving celebrations could trigger a major COVID-19 surge, the Illinois health department reported Wednesday that the number of cases climbed past the 10,000 mark for the first time in three days and the number of deaths continued to rise.

The Illinois Department of Public Heath said in a news release that the one-day total for confirmed and probable coronavirus cases climbed to 11,378, nearly 2,000 more than the daily total released on Tuesday.

Also, a day after reporting on Tuesday that the one-day total for COVID-19 deaths was 125 compared to 47 the day before, the health department reported that the latest one-day total was 155 - higher than any single day for a week.

The health department also reported that the number of people in the hospital and the number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators has remained fairly stable.

Just a few days earlier, Gov. J.B. Pritzker had said recent statistics offered a “glimmer of hope” in the state’s battle to slow the spread of the virus.

To help slow down the spread of the virus, the state late last week put into effect new COVID-19 restrictions, that include capping crowds in retail stores and temporarily closing museums and casinos. On Tuesday, Pritzker said he did not expect to see any reduction in the number of cases for about a week.

On Wednesday, the director of the state’s public health department, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said it may be as long as a week or two before it becomes clear if Thanksgiving gatherings had any kind of effect on the number of cases or deaths.

Still, both she and Pritzker took the final chance before the holiday to implore people to stay home and avoid gathering with relatives and friends who don’t already live with them.

“Please, please, please reconsider,” Ezike said to those who have made plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and extended family. “We don’t want anyone’s Thanksgiving dinner to turn into a COVID-19 superspreader event. ”

That was the same message in Chicago, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city’s public health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, voiced concerns that such gatherings would make worse an already dire situation. Arwady said concerns have only grown since a spike in Canada in the number of cases after last month’s Thanksgiving in that country.

In all, the state ‘s health department has reported that there have been 685,467 cases and 11,832 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began early this year.

On Tuesday, Ezike said Illinois will receive far fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine than originally estimated, telling reporters that she expects the state to receive about 80,000 initial doses instead of the 400,000 doses that Illinois officials had anticipated, pending FDA approval of the vaccines.

She also said she expects still expects health care and emergency workers who could come into direct contact with coronavirus patients to be vaccinated first.

vaccinated first.

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