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Illinois tallies 2,121 more coronavirus cases, but testing positivity rate drops

Saturday’s caseload marked the 13th time Illinois has logged 2,000 or more cases in a single day since Aug. 7, but the state has also increased its testing capacity.

A woman is tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing station earlier this summer at Edward Coles School in the South Chicago neighborhood.
A woman is tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing station earlier this summer at Edward Coles School in the South Chicago neighborhood.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Saturday announced another 2,121 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois, the second straight day the state logged 2,000 or more cases.

But they were confirmed among 56,594 tests, lowering the statewide testing positivity rate over the last week to 3.7%. That’s the number experts focus on to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced 22 more COVID-19 patients have died, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 8,295. The latest victims included a Cook County man in his 30s and another in his 40s.

Of nearly 4.7 million COVID-19 tests administered statewide over the last six months, 259,909 people have tested positive.

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Illinois’ positivity rate dipped below 4% this week for the first time since July 31, leaving Gov. J.B. Pritzker “pleased” with the way numbers have trended following a mid-summer resurgence — but officials warn the virus is still here for the long haul, especially if residents don’t take precautions seriously.

“It’s really that simple: the more people who practice these three W’s — wearing a mask watching the distance, and washing our hands — the sooner we can end this pandemic,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Thursday.

Saturday’s caseload marked the 13th time Illinois has logged 2,000 or more cases in a single day since Aug. 7, following a two-month stretch without topping that mark. But the state has also seen a dramatic increase in testing capacity.

As a result, Chicago’s positivity rate has held steady at 5.1%, while suburban Cook County is at 5.8%. The McHenry-Lake county region is at 6.4%, DuPage-Kane region at 5.6% and Will-Kankakee at 7.3%.

As of Friday night, 1,509 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 344 in intensive care units and 170 on ventilators.