Illinois COVID-19 Total Surpasses 2,000

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The state of Illinois has surpassed 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a grim milestone health officials announced Thursday.

Thirty-seven counties collectively are now reporting 2,538 cases of novel coronavirus, according to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike. That is an increase of 673 from the day before. Illinois is also reporting seven new deaths from the virus, taking the state's total number of fatalities to 26.

The latest figures from state government came as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed Chicago's lakefront trails, the 606 Trail and the River Walk to discourage people from gathering publicly. Lightfoot made the move with her public health commissioner after scores of people were seen mobbing the lakefront Wednesday, when temperatures were unseasonably high.

The only way to flatten the curve of COVID-19, authorities say, is for people to "socially distance" themselves. Illinois is under a "stay at home" order, and residents may only go out for essential activities, such as grocery shopping. Exercise such as jogging is fine, provided people do it alone. 

Pritzker defended the mayor's decision.

"People need to take responsibility for their themselves," he said.

Also Thursday, the governor said President Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Illinois, amid the national coronavirus outbreak.