Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state health officials are giving their daily update on the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois.
The state Department of Public Health is reporting 673 new cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the state's total to 2,538. Additionally, there have been seven more deaths, bringing that total to 26 statewide.
The cases exist in 37 of the state's 102 counties.
"I am begging you, if you don't have to be out, please stay inside," Pritzker said, pleading with residents to follow health guidelines.
The number of new cases announced Thursday was more than double the 330 new cases that were announced on Wednesday, and is the largest jump in cases in a single day.
Because testing is limited and people can spread the disease for days before showing symptoms, health experts continue to urge social distancing measures, frequent handwashing and other precautions, even in counties that have not reported confirmed cases.
"To be very clear, this virus doesn't care if you're bored and you want to hang out with your friends," the governor said. "... It has infected infants. It has killed people in their 20s and 30s and 40s. It has forced doctors around the world to make terrible decisions about who will live and who will die."
Pritzker has closed schools and issued a statewide stay-at-home order until April 7. People are still able to go to grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and jobs that are considered essential, among other destinations. The order is meant to discourage people from leaving their homes and coming into contact with others unless it is absolutely necessary, thus slowing the spread of the virus and giving hospitals a better chance to prepare for a surge of patients.
Experts have urged that Illinoisans should act like the virus is already in their communities as lack of testing means it has probably spread far beyond the reported cases.
This story will be updated.
Contact Allison Petty at (217) 421-6986. Follow her on Twitter: @allison0512
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