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‘Solemn day’ as Illinois coronavirus death toll surpasses 8,000

COVID-19 has killed an average of 48 Illinoisans per day since mid-March.

A nurse takes her gloves off as she walks out of a COVID-19 patient’s room April 28 at Roseland Community Hospital.
A nurse takes her gloves off as she walks out of a COVID-19 patient’s room April 28 at Roseland Community Hospital.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

With 11 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 by public health officials on Saturday, Illinois’ coronavirus death toll has climbed to 8,008.

Since a South Side woman became the state’s first resident known to succumb to the virus March 16, COVID-19 has killed an average of about 48 Illinoisans per day over that five-month stretch.

And with cases on the rise again statewide, officials are urging people to take health precautions more seriously to help save lives.

“Today is a solemn day in Illinois as we’ve now lost 8,000 lives to COVID-19,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “As we mourn the family, friends and neighbors who have been taken too soon, let’s do our part to prevent more senseless tragedy. Wear a mask. Watch your distance. Wash your hands. Every action counts.”

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The latest victims included older men in Cook, Lake, Will and McHenry counties, while others spanned the Illinois map from Rock Island County in the northwest part of the state to Richland County in the Southeast.

Still, the recovery rate for Illinois coronavirus patients is 95%. Most people who contract it show mild or no symptoms.

More than half the state’s total deaths — 4,396 — have occurred at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where more than 27,000 cases have been confirmed overall.

That’s about 12% of the 231,363 total cases that have been confirmed since the pandemic gripped the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Saturday another 1,880 people tested positive among 48,784 tests submitted to the state, lowering the statewide testing positivity rate to 4%.

While an indoor dining ban went into effect this week in Will and Kankakee counties due to a regional positivity rate that’s now up to 8.3%, Chicago has held relatively steady at 5.6%.

But suburban Cook County — flagged by the state Friday for being one of 30 “warning level” counties statewide — has ticked up to 6.9% positivity.

The state has logged about 1,811 new cases per day so far in August, up from a daily average of about 1,150 last month.

As of Friday night, 1,563 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 349 in intensive care units and 134 on ventilators.

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