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A broken record: State shatters COVID-19 daily high again with 10,376 new cases

Asked Friday if additional mitigation efforts were on the way, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, “It’s the last thing I want to do, but I’m ready to do it.”

A COVID-19 testing site on the South Side of Chicago.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

For the second consecutive day, state health officials on Friday announced a new record high single-day tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 10,376.

The previous record, set Thursday, was 9,935.

Friday’s announcement comes as the virus is spreading out of control in Illinois amid a second wave of infections and as Gov. J.B. Pritzker considers putting in place further, unspecified statewide restrictions to counter the surge.

An additional 49 deaths were also reported Friday, bringing the state’s total to 10,079, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state’s total case count was 465,540.

In addition, Friday was also the first day state health officials released the total number of probable cases it has recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

Probable cases are defined by IDPH as cases identified by an antigen test, which are less sensitive than molecular, or PCR, tests. The tally of probable cases, 7,673, was added to the state’s total number of cases, which now stands at 465,540.

Friday marked the 10th consecutive day the state has reported more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate — an important figure to understand how rapidly the virus is spreading — reached 9.6% on Friday, up from 6.9% last week, the state public health department reported.

Friday’s confirmed cases emerged from 98,401 tests performed across the state.

Pritzker said Friday that of the 97 local health departments throughout the state, 57 of them have reached out to at least 90% of people who have tested positive in those municipalities.

The vast majority of health departments — 86 of the 97 — have reached out to at least 75% of positive cases, Pritzker said. However, the Chicago and Cook County departments of health are not among them.

“Chicago and Cook County are still ramping up and working to bring on more people and get more of their information into our central state system,” Pritzker said.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of IDPH, urged residents across the state to pick up the phone if a contact tracer calls.

“This isn’t just about you,” Ezike said. “This is about all of us. The next several months are going to be very tough. They’re going to be very hard. But how tough and how hard and how bad it is still depends on us. Let’s please think beyond ourselves and do what we can to protect all of us.”

Pritzker, meanwhile, was isolating again — for the third time during the pandemic — after possibly being exposed to COVID-19, his office announced Friday.

A person Pritzker met with on Monday in a large conference room later tested positive for COVID-19, according to spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. Pritzker tested negative for the virus Wednesday, and is awaiting results from another test Friday; those results are expected this weekend.

As of Wednesday, all 11 of the state’s regions were operating under tighter state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on indoor services at bars and restaurants.

Those mitigations were put in place after each region saw severe increases in positivity, ranging from a low of 10% in Regions 5 and 6 to a high of 15.7% in Region 1, which covers northwestern Illinois.

Asked Friday if additional mitigation efforts were on the way, Pritzker said, “It’s the last thing I want to do, but I’m ready to do it.”

“The only way, really, that science has told us that we can limit the number of cases or the epidemiological spread of the disease is by having less interaction, and less interaction means cutting off peoples’ ability to interact in various places,” Pritzker added.

As of Thursday night, 4,090 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19 — up from 3,891 the previous day. Of those, 786 patients were in intensive care units and 339 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

That leaves just less than a third of total ICU and hospital beds available for new patients. Nearly 75 percent of ventilators remain available.

Numbers in all three categories have jumped in recent weeks.