Illinois’ positivity rate creeps back up to 4% with latest 2,905 coronavirus infections

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Ermira Sherifaj opens the diazyme machine for COVID-19 antibody testing at Simple Laboratories in Harwood Heights in April.
Ermira Sherifaj opens the diazyme machine for COVID-19 antibody testing at Simple Laboratories in Harwood Heights in April. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The positivity rate is still nowhere near the levels it reached in May, but the state’s COVID-19 progress has “cooled down,” according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Illinois’ average coronavirus testing positivity rate rose to 4% for the first time in a month on Saturday as public health officials announced 2,905 more people have contracted the virus statewide.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 31 more deaths were attributed to COVID-19, raising the state’s death toll to 8,975.

Illinois has recorded some of its highest daily case totals of the entire seven-month pandemic over the last week, due mostly to the fact that more people are being tested per day.

The latest cases were confirmed among 66,256 tests, while on average more than 55,000 tests have been administered daily statewide over the last month — almost triple the testing rate during the worst days of the pandemic in May.

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That’s why experts say the seven-day average testing positivity rate is a better barometer of how the virus is spreading.

Following a mid-summer coronavirus resurgence, that key number had been kept below 4% since Sept. 9. While the rate has increased for four consecutive days, it’s still nowhere near the levels it reached in May, when it soared close to 20%.

But as cases flare in the neighboring states of Indiana and Wisconsin, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has warned that Illinois’ COVID-19 improvement has “cooled down.”

The Chicago area is faring better than most other regions of the state, though. The city is at 4.1% positivity, suburban Cook County is at 5.3% and all other surrounding metropolitan regions are below 6%.

Since March, 6.2 million tests have been administered and 316,423 people have received positive results.

The number of Illinois coronavirus patients hospitalized crept slightly upward last week, but the state is still well within its hospital bed capacity. As of Friday night, 1,807 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, with 406 receiving intensive care and 166 using ventilators.

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October 10, 2020 at 01:30PM

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