Illinois COVID-19 cases top 2,000 for 1st time since early May as positivity rate surges to highest level since mid-April

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday continued to stress the importance of getting vaccinated.

Illinois’ fight against the coronavirus pandemic is headed in the wrong direction, with new daily cases on Wednesday surpassing 2,000 for the first time since early May and the share of COVID-19 tests returning positive results hitting its highest level since a spring surge was subsiding.

State health officials on Wednesday reported 2,082 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the highest one-day total since 3,321 cases were reported May 7. Over the past week, the state has averaged 1,587 new daily cases.

At the beginning of July, Illinois was averaging 294 cases per day, and the average had dipped as low as 222 in late June.

The case positivity rate — the percentage of cases as a share of total tests — also has skyrocketed this month, reaching a seven-day average of 4% during the week ending Tuesday. That matches the rate from mid-April, when smaller third surge of the pandemic was beginning to wane.

During the week ending July 1, the statewide case positivity rate was 0.9%.

The vexing rise in cases comes as the Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced the state would follow new federal guidelines in recommending masks indoors for everyone in areas where the virus is surging. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that includes about two-thirds of Illinois counties, though only Will County in the Chicago area.

As for whether more stringent restrictions are in the offing, “we’re always looking, every day, at the question of whether further mitigations need to be imposed,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday at an unrelated event in Chicago.

“You’ve seen how unpredictable this virus can be,” Pritzker said. “Don’t think that just because on some given day we don’t have a mitigation in place that we can’t, as a result of the significant rise in cases, decide that it it time for people to put on masks.”

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The governor once again urged everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, “unless your doctor says otherwise.”

Statewide, 27,155 vaccine doses were administered Tuesday, the most in a single day since July 2. But over the past week, the state is averaging just 17,982 doses per day, with nearly 44% of the eligible population still unvaccinated. During the week ending July 1, the state average 41,150 doses per day.

Earlier Wednesday, Pritzker said his administration still is evaluating whether to require state employees to get their shots or submit to regular testing. California and New York have announced such requirements this week, and President Joe Biden reportedly is preparing to make a similar announcement for federal workers.

“My No. 1 focus is the safety and health of people who are under the care of the state of Illinois, so certainly the first line of focus for me is making sure that those who are serving directly, for example, the developmentally disabled or our veterans or others who are in close contact with them,” Pritzker said.

People stand in line in June outside the driver’s and vehicle services office at the Thompson Center in Chicago. It and other driver’s license facilities will start requiring masks again Monday.


Pritzker, who has made his leadership during the pandemic a central theme of his recently launched reelection bid, has faced harsh criticism for his administration’s handling of deadly coronavirus outbreaks at state-run homes that killed dozens of veterans.

While the governor has yet to announce any significant changes to the state’s coronavirus restrictions, which were largely lifted on June 11 with the move to phase five of his reopening plan, the secretary of state’s office will once again require employees and customers to don masks when entering driver services facilities.

The rule also applies to anyone entering other secretary of state offices and the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, Secretary of State Jesse White’s office said.

Many driver services facilities have experienced a huge rush of customers since reopening in January following a shutdown in November. The facilities also were closed during the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020.

White has extended the expiration date for all driver’s licenses and state identification cards until Jan. 1. The secretary of state’s office is encouraging people to conduct transactions online when possible.

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July 28, 2021 at 02:24PM

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