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55 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, 593 new cases

The state has seen some of its lowest case counts in months over the past week with testing far more widely available compared to the early days of the pandemic. But the virus has killed at least 6,537 so far.

Phlebotomist Kimberley Moses, with Simple Laboratories, collects a nasopharyngeal swab sample to test for the coronavirus for Mike Grono, 45, of Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood, at the lab’s drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights, Friday, May 1, 2020.
Phlebotomist Kimberley Moses, with Simple Laboratories, collects a nasopharyngeal swab sample to test for the coronavirus for Mike Grono, 45, of Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood, at the lab’s drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights, Friday, May 1, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

State health officials on Thursday said another 55 people have died in Illinois of COVID-19, as another 593 people tested positive for the coronavirus.

Both figures marked the latest relatively low counts the state has seen so far this month following the worst of the pandemic’s brutal impact in mid-May.

But they raised the Illinois’ coronavirus death toll to 6,537 among the 134,778 people confirmed to have contracted the virus so far.

The latest deaths included two young Cook County residents: a woman in her 20s and a man in his 30s, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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The most serious cases typically have affected older people with underlying health conditions. More than half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been tied to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data. Illinois’ overall recovery rate is 93%.

An additional 181 deaths and 861 infections statewide are considered by health officials to have been untested but “probable” cases of COVID-19.

Still, the state has seen some of its lowest case counts in months over the past week with testing far more widely available compared to the early days of the pandemic. More than 25,000 test results were reported to the state Wednesday, and nearly 1.3 million people have been tested overall.

That has led Illinois’ rolling testing positivity rate to gradually shrink in recent weeks, now holding steady at 3%.

All four regions of the state are poised to advance to Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan June 26, except Chicago, where officials say that likely will be delayed until July 1.

That expansion will allow for gatherings of up to 50 people and allow more businesses to reopen, good news for an Illinois economy gearing back to life from the full-on shutdown.

With the first phases of reopening, the state’s unemployment rate has improved slightly to 15.2%, down from a high of 17.2% in April, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

But officials have warned that unless residents keep wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, the widespread protests and reopenings in recent weeks could result in a spike in cases. That’s been the case in other states that loosened regulations well before Illinois did.