Illinois reports record number of coronavirus cases for second day in a week as state passes 7 million tests

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CHICAGO — For the second time in less than a week, Illinois health officials reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases Thursday as a resurgence in infections continues across the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,942 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, surpassing the previous single-day record of 4,554 reported on Oct. 16. An increase of 5,368 cases reported on Sept. 4 was due to a reporting backlog, health officials said at the time.

Illinois also passed the milestone of more than seven million total COVID-19 tests performed to date after the state reported more than 80,000 new tests Thursday, while data compiled by WGN-TV shows the state’s weekly testing average now stands at more than 71,000 a day.

As every region in the Restore Illinois plan continues to report rising test positivity rates, the 7-day average of cases in the state has doubled from 2,000 on October 6 to about 4,000 as of Thursday. The 7-day testing average grew by about 13,000 over that period.

The IDPH also reported a COVID-19 test positivity rate from October 15-21 of 5.7 %, remaining near levels last seen in early June, although the weekly testing average has more than tripled since then.

While the state is seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital resources across the state remain within state guidelines, as health officials report 2,463 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday night, including 525 in intensive care and 212 on ventilators.

With 44 additional COVID-19 related deaths reported Thursday, the 7-day average declined slightly to around 37 a day. State health officials estimate 97 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases have recovered to date.

Additional mitigation measures are now in effect in several northwest and far southern Illinois counties after the 7-day positivity rates in the North Region and South Region surpassed the state’s “failsafe” level of 8 percent for three consecutive days.

New restrictions, including bans on indoor dining at bars and restaurants and limits on gatherings to 25 people or less, will also be put in place in DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties starting Friday after their regions passed state limits.

Several suburban restaurants say they’re planning to defy the governor’s orders to shut down indoor dining Friday. For some the defiance to the order is political, but for others it’s a matter of survival.

The North Suburban region, which includes Lake and McHenry Counties, reported a 7-day positivity rate near the state limit of 7.8% as of Oct. 19, while the Cook County region outside Chicago reported a rate of 7.2 percent and the city itself came in at 7% as of the latest data reported Thursday.

State health officials released their plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available Wednesday, which Governor JB Pritzker said would give first priority to the “most vulnerable populations.”

“That includes, for example, frontline health care workers and first responders who directly interact with and treat COVID patients, as well as staff and residents in long-term care facilities,” Pritzker said.

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