208 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, second highest daily toll of the pandemic

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Nurse practitioner Capri Reese, right, gives a pep-talk to nurse Tamara Jones in the COVID-19 unit earlier this year at Roseland Community Hospital. Illinois is in the midst of its deadliest stretch of the pandemic.
Nurse practitioner Capri Reese, right, gives a pep-talk to nurse Tamara Jones in the COVID-19 unit earlier this year at Roseland Community Hospital. Illinois is in the midst of its deadliest stretch of the pandemic. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois continued the deadliest stretch of the pandemic Saturday with state public health officials announcing an additional 208 coronavirus-related deaths.

State health officials on Saturday announced an additional 208 people have died of the coronavirus, marking the second most deaths reported in a single day over the last nine months of the pandemic.

The Chicago area accounted for 64 of the latest fatalities. The vast majority of those deaths reported statewide were among people 60 and older, with people under 60 accounting for 18 of the deaths.

Illinois is in the midst of its deadliest stretch of the pandemic. Saturday’s troubling news comes just three days after the state reported a record-setting 238 fatalities, a figure that shattered the previous record of 191 deaths on May 13.

Since Thanksgiving, Illinois has logged 1,224 coronavirus-related deaths, which is more than 9% of the state’s pandemic death toll of 13,179.

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State health officials also announced 9,887 new COVID-19 cases, which were found among the latest batch of 102,678 tests reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That keeps the state’s seven-day positivity rate at 10.3%, continuing a steady improvement from three weeks ago when that metric checked in at 12.6%.

The new coronavirus data comes on the heels of Gov. J.B. Pritzker laying out the state’s distribution plan for the first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine. Illinois expects to receive 109,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the federal government by Dec. 19. About 23,000 of those vaccines, or 21%, will be sent to Chicago, with the remaining expected to be administered to the state’s 50 counties suffering the highest per capita coronavirus death rates.

Pritzker said frontline hospital and health care workers will be first in line for the vaccine, followed by long-term care facility residents, essential workers and people 65 or older with underlying health conditions.

While the Democratic governor expressed cautious optimism that the worst part of the second resurgence of the coronavirus is in the past, state health officials are bracing for another surge in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday after many gathered with friends and family against the CDC recommendations.

For now, though, hospitalizations in Illinois have decreased after the late fall surge in cases led to hospitals treating the most COVID-19 patients they’ve ever had. As of Friday night, 5,331 beds were taken up by COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals, with 1,135 of those patients in intensive care units and 694 on ventilators, officials said.

The state has administered more than 11 million coronavirus tests since March, with 779,975 people confirmed to have the respiratory virus — about 6.2% of the state’s population.

Most people who contract the virus have mild to no symptoms. About 97% of Illinoisans who have contracted the virus have since recovered, officials said.

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December 5, 2020 at 02:06PM

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