The Crusader Newspaper Group

Illinois’ first death from coronavirus was a Black woman

Crusader Staff Report

Illinois’ first death from the coronavirus on Tuesday, March 17, was Patricia Frieson, a Black woman from Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood who contracted the virus at a nursing home in DuPage County.

Frieson, who was in her 60’s, reportedly had an underlying medical condition died after having contact with someone else who had been contaminated with the virus. Frieson was hospitalized when she died. The Chicago Department of Public Health has been “monitoring her condition for some time.”

Illinois received a spike of 55 cases that brought the total number of coronavirus cases to 288.

“I’m deeply saddened to share news that I have dreaded since the earliest days of this outbreak: the first COVID-19-related death in Illinois,” Pritzker said at a press conference. “I want to extend my deepest condolences to her family members. I want them to know that the entire state of Illinois mourns with them. May her memory be a blessing.”

Pritzker said a state infectious control team was dispatched to a DuPage County nursing home Saturday after a patient tested positive for the virus. Tests revealed that 22 confirmed cases have occurred at the facility. Eighteen of those people are residents and four are staff members.

Pritzker said he and his staff have been on the phone “day and night” with the medical testing supply chain. Pritzker said the federal government is “monopolizing supplies and not providing them to the states.”

“They set deadlines and they blew through them. They told us capacity would increase and it has not. The powerhouse research institutions here in Illinois … are lending their own world-class resources to the fight against COVID-19. But they’re running into the same roadblocks,” Pritzker said.

“This is an incredible failure by the federal government. And every day they continue to abdicate their responsibilities is another day that we fall behind. I’ve requested — and now I’m demanding — that the White House, the FDA, the CDC produce a rapid increase in test deployment nationwide or get out of the way and allow us to obtain them elsewhere ourselves.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said residents of the DuPage County nursing home are still being actively screened — “sometimes every two hours,” with health care professionals “looking for fever or respiratory symptoms, monitoring oxygen saturations.”

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