Associated Press: Human Toll of Cold, More Than 2 Dozen Dead, Hundreds Hurt

CHICAGO (AP)  The dangerous cold and heavy snow that hobbled the northern U.S. this week has retreated, but not before exacting a human toll: more than two dozen weather-related deaths in eight states and hundreds of injuries, including frostbite, broken bones, heart attacks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

In Illinois alone, hospitals reported more than 220 cases of frostbite and hypothermia since Tuesday, when the polar vortex moved in and overnight temperatures plunged to minus 30 (minus 34 Celsius) or lower ” with wind chills of minus 50 (minus 45 Celsius) or worse in some areas.

In just a two-day period, Tuesday and Wednesday, Mercyhealth in Rockford treated 15 people for broken bones from falling on the ice, 10 people who were in car crashes caused by snow and eight people who complained of chest pain or shortness of breath from shoveling snow, hospital officials said.

Rockford broke recorded a record low of minus 31 degrees Thursday, but the hospital only treated two cases of frostbite, emergency physician Dr. John Pakiela said.

“It was Antarctica there for a few days … but I think people listened to professional advice and heeded warnings,” about staying indoors or bundling up, he said.

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