Illinois reported another massive load of 2,806 new coronavirus cases confirmed statewide on Saturday, one of the highest daily totals since the worst of the pandemic almost four months ago.
It’s not as staggering as the record-high 5,368 cases of COVID-19 announced a day earlier by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but that bloated Friday figure included up to three days’ worth of delayed test results due to a now-fixed data processing backlog, officials said.
The state averaged about 2,587 cases per day over the backlog period, meaning Saturday’s whopping caseload could mark the most in a single day since Illinois logged 3,239 cases May 14.
Still, the latest cases were confirmed among 61,935 tests submitted to the state, almost triple the state’s testing capacity in May.
The state came down from its initial coronavirus peak in mid-June, averaging about 764 new cases per day over the month.
But downstate outbreaks and transmission among young people have had cases surging back upward since early July.
Illinois has averaged 1,992 new cases per day over the last 30 days, while 29 counties — almost a third of the state map — are considered to be at a coronavirus “warning level.”
Earlier this week, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, singled out Illinois among a handful of states at risk of a dangerous rise in cases over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
“Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing; that is generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem,” Fauci said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Saturday’s cases raised Illinois average testing positivity rate over the last week by one notch up to 4.2%.
A spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s “watching the data closely leading up to the holiday weekend” and warned that “Illinoisans must remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 by wearing our masks, watching our distance and washing our hands.”
Health officials also said the virus has killed another 23 Illinois residents, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 8,166.
Almost 4.4 million Illinoisans have been tested since March, with more than 248,000 confirmed to carry the virus.
Most people show mild or even no symptoms. The recovery rate in Illinois is 96%.
But it’s had a devastating impact on elderly, vulnerable patients. A total of 27,738 cases have been traced to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, with 4,445 of those proving fatal.