U.S. Midwest state reports second-worst day amid COVID-19 pandemic

U.S. Midwest state of Illinois reported 11,378 new COVID-19 cases and 155 new deaths on Wednesday, according to local public health officials.

This is the second-highest daily death count the state has suffered in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fifth-worst day for COVID-19 fatalities during the entire pandemic, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Sixty-four of the latest deaths came from the Chicago area.

Pending U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which falls on Nov. 26, and amid the spike in COVID-19 infections, Illinois’ Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike urged people to change mind if they were planning to take part in a large Thanksgiving gathering.

“Please reconsider your plans and be part of the solution to decrease infections, instead of part of the plan to increase them,” she pleaded together with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker at a news conference on Monday.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in Illinois have been increasing.

Earlier, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people to celebrate holiday virtually or only with members of their own household. It is particularly against travel for the holiday.

United Airlines’ bookings declined and cancellations increased in the past week as a result, forcing the Chicago-based carrier to adjust its flying schedule for the fourth quarter. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines also said sales had slowed in recent weeks.

The airlines have worked to reassure wary customers by touting health and safety precautions and dropping change fees, local media reported.

It is estimated that average domestic airfares will drop roughly 40 percent around Thanksgiving and Christmas because of lower demand.

According to data from the Johns Hopkins University, the United States has confirmed more than 12.7 million COVID-19 infection cases with deaths exceeding 261,800 as of Wednesday evening.