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Death toll grows to 4 in Illinois as COVID-19 cases climb to 422

Death toll grows to 4 in Illinois as COVID-19 cases climb to 422

Ill. virus cases top 200, include 42 tied to nursing home

A COVID-19 testing sign at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced three more deaths from COVID-19 in the state.

The dead are a Will County man in his 50s, a Cook County woman in her 80s and a woman in her 70s from Florida who was visiting Sangamon County. 

"We are fighting this fight for every person in Illinois," Pritzker said.

Officials said the state now has 422 cases in 22 counties. That's 134 more cases over Wednesday's total, which includes at least three in St. Clair County.

More than 1,000 people have been tested in Illinois, the governor said. Officials attributed the increase in positive cases to expanded testing. He said he expects testing to expand to about 2,000 per day within days, which will result in more positive tests. He said the National Guard also will help hospitals with test sites or setting up mobile testing sites.

Pritzker also announced low-interest disaster assistance loans up to $2 million available to small businesses, and that sales tax bills for small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants will be delayed for two months; late payments on sales tax bills due in March, April and May are waived.

The governor urged people not to hoard food and said grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will not close. He recently ordered schools across the state to shut down through the end of the month, and for restaurants and bars to cease dine-in service. 

Illinois health officials urged anyone feeling slightly ill to stay home so that hospitals are freed up to care for those more critically ill.

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