Illinois coronavirus case tally surpasses 300K

An average of about 1,450 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed every day during the pandemic.

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A technician processes nasopharyngeal swab samples positive for COVID-19 at Simple Laboratories in Harwood Heights in April 2020.

COVID-19 test samples are handled at Simple Laboratories in Harwood Heights in April.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Illinois’ pandemic case total eclipsed 300,000 on Saturday as public health officials announced an additional 2,442 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

Since early March, at least 300,088 people have been confirmed to carry the deadly virus in Illinois — nearly 2.4% of the state’s population.

That’s an average of about 1,450 new cases added per day as the pandemic enters its seventh month.

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The coronavirus has also claimed about 44 lives per day statewide. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported an additional 31 deaths attributed to the virus Saturday, raising the state’s death toll to 8,774.

The latest victims included a Cook County man in his 40s and a woman in her 50s, but fatalities have been confirmed across the map.

As the state passed its latest sobering milestone, experts say thousands more cases of COVID-19 have likely gone undetected over the months. State health officials have logged at least 249 deaths and 2,739 infections that are considered to have been “probable” but untested cases.

The virus has preyed on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have accounted for a tenth of the state’s case total (30,243) and more than half the death toll (4,697).

The state passed the 100,000-case mark in late May, about two months into the pandemic, and rose to 200,000 in mid-August.

Illinois has averaged more than 1,950 new cases per day since then, but thanks to the state’s booming testing capacity, positivity rates have trended downward following a mid-summer resurgence. Officials use the average seven-day testing positivity rate to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading.

The latest cases were confirmed among 71,634 tests submitted to the state, keeping the state’s positivity over the last week at 3.4%, as low as it has been in 10 weeks.

Chicago is at 4.5% positivity and all its surrounding regions are below 6%.

As of Friday night, Illinois hospitals were treating 1,535 coronavirus patients, with 361 receiving intensive care and 140 on ventilators.

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