Coronavirus now in 100 Illinois counties as state tops 4K deaths, 90K cases

With 130 deaths reported on Friday, the state has lost 1,727 people so far in May and 4,058 overall.

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Simple Laboratories phlebotomists draw blood for coronavirus antibody testing and collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test for COVID-19 at the lab’s drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights on May 1.

Simple Laboratories phlebotomists draw blood for coronavirus antibody testing and collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test for COVID-19 at the lab’s drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights on May 1.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

COVID-19 is now in 100 of Illinois’ 102 counties, as Friday marked the fourth day in a row the state has seen more than 100 lives lost — and the 18th such day since the pandemic began.

With the latest 130 deaths, the state’s toll so far in May alone is 1,727 people, and 4,058 overall.

There were also 2,432 more people who tested positive among the latest batch of 26,565 test results, officials said. And Edgar County became the 100th county to record positive cases in the state.

There have been 90,369 confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The state’s overall positivity rate — the number of positive cases compared to total tests received within the last 24 hours — was 9.1%. And the Northeast region, home to Chicago, Cook and the collar counties, remained under 20%, a required benchmark to enter the next phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s regional reopening plan.

But the positivity rate is a seven-day rolling average and the data lags, Pritzker’s office has said. Each of the state’s four regions must be under that rate for 14 days to advance to the third reopening phase, which allows some “non-essential” businesses to resume limited operations.

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The current seven day average of the positivity rate is 12%, Pritzker said, down from an April peak of 23.6%. But the governor warned that part of the reason the positivity rate is lower is because of increased testing.

“Remember, we surpassed 10,000 tests per day for the first time on April 24, and we’ve stayed above 11,000 every day since then. Over the last seven days, we’ve nearly doubled that, with an average of 20,000 tests per day,” Pritzker said. “The good news is that our current statewide positivity rate is under 14% on average for the last 14 days. And that’s likely becoming a better indicator of the true infection rate among the general public than it was when testing was far more limited.”

Pritzker also announced six new testing sites in Chicago, in Little Village, Pullman, Hanson Park, Englewood, Gage Park and Bridgeport.

The state is also launching four new drive-thru sites. Starting Saturday, a drive-thru site in Chatham will begin testing, as well as sites in Champaign, Peoria and Rolling Meadows.

All testing is free, and the sites will be open seven days a week.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health, said as of Thursday night, there were 4,367 people in the state’s hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, about a quarter of them — 1,129 — were in intensive care units, and 675 were on ventilators.

Hospital metrics are also key to Pritzker’s reopening plan. To get to Phase 3, regions must show no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 symptoms for 28 days, and have at least 14% of ICU beds, medical and surgery beds and ventilators available.

Ezike also issued recommendations for expectant mothers, warning they must be tested for the coronavirus before they’re admitted for delivery.

“First of all, many of the symptoms associated with labor can mimic or cover up symptoms of COVID-19, so we could easily escape detection with just symptom screening,” Ezike said. “But we also know that many people with COVID-19 are completely asymptomatic.

Ezike said early data from hospitals show a positivity rate of between 3% and 12% fo expectant mothers admitted for labor. She said women may be at further risk of additional complications if they have COVID-19.

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