Illinois coronavirus metrics tick up with 178 more deaths, 7,374 new cases

Despite the recent uptick, Illinois’ key coronavirus metrics have generally trended downward since reaching all-time highs in late November.

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Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus last month at the hospital’s drive-thru testing site.

Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus last month at the hospital’s drive-thru testing site.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois public health officials announced the state’s highest daily coronavirus figures in almost two weeks Wednesday with 7,374 new cases of COVID-19 and 178 more deaths attributed to it.

The latest caseload, which is the largest reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health since Dec. 19, was diagnosed among 74,573 tests. That raised the statewide average testing positivity rate for a third consecutive day, up to 7.6%.

The death count is the highest since Dec. 18, and well above the state’s average of 122 coronavirus deaths per day over the past two weeks. It’s also higher than the death rate during the state’s worst two-week stretch of the pandemic at the start of December, when the coronavirus was claiming 152 Illinois lives on average every day.

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Ninety-nine of the latest victims were from the Chicago area, including a Cook County man and woman both in their 40s.

Despite the recent uptick, Illinois’ key coronavirus metrics have generally trended downward since reaching all-time highs in late November.

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients decreased by 69 from Monday to Tuesday night, when 4,244 beds were occupied across the state. The number of those requiring intensive care decreased slightly as well to 882, as did the number on ventilators, down to 496.

But like most parts of the state, Chicago’s regional positivity rate increased for a second straight day, up to 8.7%, after about two weeks of steady decline.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team has warned that’ll keep heading in the wrong direction if families don’t cancel large gatherings.It would take at least a couple of weeks into the new year to see any potential spike in the state’s numbers due to holiday transmission.

“Estimates show that tens of thousands of lives can be saved if we all take mask-wearing seriously and avoid gatherings. Let’s protect ourselves and our communities by going all in,” Pritzker tweeted.

Meanwhile, the state’s unprecedented vaccination campaign continues. As of Monday night, more than 126,000 coronavirus vaccine doses had been administered statewide, mostly to health care workers. Nursing home residents will also begin receiving shots this week, as additional shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive.

Since March, more than 955,000 Illinoisans have contracted COVID-19, and 16,357 of them have died. The recovery rate is 98%.

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