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Pritzker preaches ‘personal responsibility’ as Illinois COVID-19 positivity rate inches upward with another 955 cases

A total of 7,324 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois over the last four months, among at least 163,703 who have tested positive for the virus.

Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny gets her blood drawn for a coronavirus antibody test on May 1.
Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny gets her blood drawn for a coronavirus antibody test on May 1.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois’ coronavirus testing positivity rate crept upward once more with the latest batch of 955 confirmed cases statewide, officials said Tuesday.

The new cases were detected among 29,745 test results, raising the state’s rolling positivity rate over the last week to 3.1%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Considered a key indicator of how fast COVID-19 is spreading through the state, the positivity rate soared close to 20% at Illinois’ height of the pandemic in mid-May. Since that number fell to 2.5% two weeks ago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has warned of a steady uptick in cases that could eventually force some regions of the state to scale back reopening.

A day after the Democratic governor said he was worried “our numbers should be going down when, actually, they’re about steady” — that’s just where the latest Illinois figures were.

The daily caseload of 955 was on par with the state’s average of 977 cases announced per day so far in July, while 23 more deaths were attributed to the coronavirus — slightly above this month’s average of 19 deaths per day.

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A total of 7,324 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois over the last four months, among at least 163,703 who have tested positive for the virus. More than 2.3 million people have been tested over that span.

Health officials said “increased mitigation and infection control measures” are being taken against an outbreak at a St. Charles juvenile justice facility, where 16 staffers and three young people have tested positive.

Another 32 cases were confirmed this week at the Chester Mental Health Center in downstate Randolph County, affecting 27 staffers and five residents. That’s in the Metro East region of Pritzker’s re-divided reopening plan — a region where the governor’s public health department could soon reintroduce more restrictions if its numbers keep trending in the wrong direction.

The Metro East region has already seen a full week of increasing testing positivity rates, up to 7.1%. Under Pritzker’s revised plan, the state will step in if the region also sees increased hospital admissions or a decrease in available hospital beds — or, if that positivity number jumps to 8% or more for three straight days.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about the ongoing effort by the government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus at Edward Coles School earlier this month.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about the ongoing effort by the government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus at Edward Coles School earlier this month.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

“To a large degree, this is about personal responsibility,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Collinsville, part of that same downstate region. “Nobody can be following you all day long and telling you to put on a mask. When you go into a public place, everybody needs to know that that’s what they need to do.”

As of Monday night, 1,466 Illinois COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with 320 in intensive care units and 142 on ventilators.