Illinois’ positivity rate creeps up as coronavirus kills 106 more residents

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team has warned of a potential increase in cases and positivity due to transmission at holiday gatherings, but it could take a few weeks for that to show up in the data, experts say.

SHARE Illinois’ positivity rate creeps up as coronavirus kills 106 more residents
Nurse Tamara Jones puts on new personal protective equipment as she prepares to checks on a patient with COVID-19 earlier this month in the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital.

Nurse Tamara Jones puts on new personal protective equipment as she prepares to checks on a patient with COVID-19 earlier this month in the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois’ COVID-19 testing positivity rate inched upward for a third straight day Tuesday as state public health officials announced the virus has killed 106 additional residents and spread to 5,644 more.

The new cases were confirmed among 66,786 tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, raising the state’s average positivity rate over the last week to 7.4%. That’s increased from 6.8% over the weekend but is still down from over 10% this time last month.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team has warned of a potential increase in cases and positivity due to transmission at holiday gatherings, but it could take a few weeks for that to show up in the data, experts say.

Generally, though, the state’s key COVID-19 metrics have gradually improved since Thanksgiving following a record-breaking resurgence.

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The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients increased slightly by Monday night up to 4,313, but that’s still down from more than 5,700 at the start of the month.

The latest death count of 106 is close to average for the state over the last week. That, too, has fallen from an all-time high average rate of 154 deaths per day at the beginning of December.

Among the most recent fatalities were 52 Chicago-area residents, including a Cook County woman in her 40s. December has been the worst month of the pandemic by far for Illinois, with 3,923 COVID-19 deaths and counting.

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Since March, the virus has claimed 16,179 lives statewide, with about half the deaths tied to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

They were among more than 948,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. The recovery rate in Illinois is 98%.

Nursing home residents have begun receiving coronavirus vaccine doses this week. They’re first in line for shots along with medical workers. More than 112,000 people had been vaccinated statewide as of Dec. 24, the most recent count provided by the state.

Several months remain before vaccines are widely available to Illinois’ 12.7 million residents.

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