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In Chicago, there were 453 deaths

On Thursday, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Cook County's chief medical examiner, drove 20 minutes through Chicago to a refrigerated warehouse.

The county morgue had overflowed with corpses, as had hospitals and funeral homes. The first bodies had been placed in the warehouse; many more were coming.

“We hope we don’t have to use all that capacity," she said, "but we’re prepared to.’’

Family and friends of Chicago Police Officer Marco DiFranco, who had to stand outside during the funeral amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, wave goodbye as the hearse leaves Cumberland Funeral Chapels, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Norridge, Ilinois. DiFranco, 50, died April 2 from complications from COVID-19, making him the first Chicago police officer to lose his life to the coronavirus.

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Family and friends of Chicago Police Officer Marco DiFranco, who had to stand outside during the funeral amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, wave goodbye...

ASHLEE REZIN GARCIA, AP
As of Saturday, Illinois had reported 677 deaths, of which 453 were in Cook County, which includes Chicago.

Arunkumar sometimes springs awake in the middle of the night, thinking about the bodies.

"This is what we signed up for," she said. "We just have to carry through.”
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago has a strict no-visitor policy. Sometimes they make exceptions.

On Sunday, Katie Martino, a nurse in the hospital's cardiac intensive care unit, had a patient, a woman in her 60s, who was slipping fast. She led two family members wearing face masks into the room. A short time later, the woman died.

Martino finished her shift and returned home, but that death lingered. The only solace she took away was that she had been able to get the family to the woman’s bedside before it was too late.

“Thankfully, we were able to give that to them,” she said.

On the days she’s not working, she joins a neighborhood prayer group. About 10 of them stand outside their houses and pray for Martino, for a firefighter who lives on the block, and for the patients they’re treating.


On Wednesday, Patrice Rosenberg watched as an anesthesia team prepared to place a coronavirus patient on a ventilator at Northwestern Memorial.

As the registered nurse in charge of that COVID-19 intensive care unit that day, she was making her rounds, checking on 20 patients and 14 nurses.

Suddenly, Rosenberg realized she didn’t know the nurse responsible for that patient.

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