in the US with coronavirus.
In news that will reverberate across the nation, and even likely beyond, governor Jay Pritzker revealed that among 13 more deaths reported in the state, were a government employee and a young child.
“Today I have some terribly sad news to announce. Among the fatalities over the last 24 hours was a state employee, a member of our team at the Department of Human Services and an infant.
“May their memories be a blessing,” he said at a press conference on Saturday.
“I know how difficult this news can be especially about this very young child. Upon hearing it I admit I was immediately shaken, and it’s appropriate for us to grieve today, We should grieve with our family of state employees, with the many people we’ve already lost to this virus, young and old.”
The development came as the number of infections in the US soared to around 120,000, and the number of deaths leapt to more than 2,000.
Officials said the specific cause of death of the youngster was not clear and that an investigation was underway.
The death of the child will be of enormous to distress to parents across the nation, who have been led to believe by officials and health experts that the elderly and those with underlying health problems were most at risk.
Also addressing reporters on Saturday was the state’s health director, Dr Ngozi Ezike, who urged people to do all they could to precent the spread of the disease.
“If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,” she said.
The risk of death and severe illness from Covid-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalisation.
According to reports, children have made up a small fraction of coronavirus cases worldwide. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese researchers earlier this month reported the death of a 10-month-old with Covid-19. The infant had a bowel blockage and organ failure, and died four weeks after being hospitalised.
Separate research published in the journal Pediatrics traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year old. The study found less than 6 per cent of children were seriously ill.
Mr Pritzker urged people to follow his stay-at-home order and practice social distancing when outside of their home, and said new shopping procedures will be starting, such as announcements in stores reminding shoppers to keep six feet apart and a temporary ban on reusable bags.
“It doesn’t take that many people to break the rules and cause danger to the community,” he said. “People need to do what’s right. Right now, the fact that you’re bored and you want to get a pickup basketball game with your friends? People are going to die if you don’t stay at home.”
He also revealed that McCormick Place Convention Centre in Chicago would serve as Illinois’ first “field hospital”.
On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers’ commander, Lt Gen Todd Semonite, told reporters the corps is setting up beds to accommodate about 3,000 patients at the convention centre, and would be ready by April 24.
“We’re not waiting of the worst,” said Mr Pritzker. “We’re preparing ourselves for the worst.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press