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The Shelby County Health Department this week reported that a county resident has passed away due to complications from coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The individual was a 73-year-old male from Shelbyville and was hospitalized at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon, according to a press release. He tested positive on April 24, 2020 and passed away at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, the department said. He did not have any underlying health conditions, the release noted.

“We offer our condolences to the friends and family affected by this loss,” the health department said in the release. “We urge our entire community to take the necessary precautions to stop the spread of this virus.”

Meanwhile, the state of Illinois is sending out teams of nurses and ramping up testing for COVID-19 at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as it continues efforts to control the spread of the virus.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday during his daily briefing in Chicago that the Illinois Department of Public Health is deploying 10 teams of 50 nurses each to long-term care facilities around the state, and it will deploy another team of 200 nurses in the coming days.

Pritzker said the nurses’ primary functions will be to administer swab tests to the staff and residents, train nursing home staff on how to conduct swab tests themselves, and help the facilities improve their hygiene practices and use of personal protective equipment, or PPE.

“As always, I want to offer my gratitude and the thanks of a grateful state to the front-line staff who dedicate their days and their nights to this work and who are stepping up in incredible ways to protect those most vulnerable to this virus,” Pritzker said. “Know that your work makes a world of difference for the people that you care for, to their families and to all of Illinois.”

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said her agency is focusing on nursing homes because of the unique vulnerability of their residents.

“Our long-term care residents are at greater risk of infection because of the inherent nature of living in that congregate setting, not to mention the advanced age and the attendant comorbidities,” she said. “Public Health will continue to work closely with the long-term care facilities across the state, calling almost 200 facilities a day to check in on the staff and ask for the assistance that may be required. We’re making sure that they’re employing the most up-to-date guidance and answering any questions that they may have.”

Pritzker had announced earlier that the state was ramping up testing at those facilities so that all residents and staff could be tested free of charge. Since April 19 when those efforts began, he said, the state has distributed more than 18,000 testing swabs to 68 facilities across the state.

More recently, he said Wednesday, IDPH secured a contract with New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics, which operates labs in Illinois, to process 3,000 tests per day for long-term care facilities and to report those results within 48 hours.

In addition to deploying nurses to long-term care facilities around the state, Pritzker said IDPH and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation have simplified the hiring process for nurses so facilities suffering from staff shortages due to illnesses can quickly hire temporary staff.

Information about outbreaks at specific nursing facilities is available on the IDPH website.

Pritzker announced those efforts Wednesday as IDPH reported 2,253 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 92 virus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours. That brings the total to 50,355 cases, and 2,215 deaths since the pandemic first appeared in Illinois. Cases of the disease have been reported in 96 of the state’s 102 counties.

Also over the previous day, laboratories had processed 14,478 specimens for a total of 256,667 since the pandemic began, IDPH said.

Starting Friday, May 1, a new stay-at-home order will take effect in Illinois for 30 days. Under that order, all individuals will be required to wear some kind of face covering when they are shopping or in any other public setting.

Garden centers and nurseries will be allowed to open for business and other retail outlets will be allowed to take online and telephone orders for delivery or pickup outside the store. Golf courses will also be allowed to open under strict social distancing guidelines.

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