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Illinois adds 2,529 more coronavirus cases, but statewide positivity rate falls again

More than 74,000 test results were reported to state public health officials, the highest number ever received in a single day so far through the six-month pandemic.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to medical personnel during a visit to a mobile COVID-19 testing station at Edward Coles School in the South Chicago neighborhood July 8.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to medical personnel during a visit to a mobile COVID-19 testing station at Edward Coles School in the South Chicago neighborhood July 8.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Saturday announced 2,529 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 across Illinois as the state’s average testing positivity rate took another encouraging step downward.

The latest daily caseload is the 12th highest reported throughout the six-month pandemic, but the positives were confirmed among the biggest number of tests ever submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health in a single day: 74,286.

As a result, the statewide testing positivity rate over the last week— the number experts use to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading — dipped to 3.5%, the lowest it’s been since July 24.

The state reported almost 150,000 tests Sept. 4, but that bloated figure included up to three days of results due to a data processing backlog.

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More than 5 million tests have now been administered since March. Almost 273,000 people have been confirmed to carry the virus.

And while the state’s average of almost 2,000 new cases added per day this month is comparable to the peak month of May, positivity rates have sunk across most of the state thanks to booming testing numbers. Chicago is at 4.9% positivity and all its surrounding regions are below 6%.

Officials also announced the virus killed an additional 25 residents, raising Illinois’ pandemic death toll to 8,436. Among the latest victims was a Cook County man in his 50s.

But the virus more typically has preyed on the elderly, especially those with underlying health conditions. The state’s latest figures show almost 29,000 of the state’s COVID-19 cases have been traced to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — and they still account for more than half the death toll, with 4,575 of those cases proving fatal.

As of Friday night, 1,469 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 326 in intensive care units and 141 on ventilators.