Illinois’ pandemic death toll surpasses 17,500

Cook County accounted for nearly three-quarters of Sunday’s 81 reported fatalities.

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COVID-19 testing area at University of Chicago Hospital in March.

State health officials on Sunday reported an additional 81 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing Illinois’ pandemic death toll to 17,574.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

State health officials on Sunday reported an additional 81 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing Illinois’ pandemic death toll to 17,574.

Cook County accounted for nearly three-quarters of Sunday’s reported fatalities. In total, 59 of the 81 deaths were reported in the Chicago area, including a Cook County man and woman in their 30s.

Illinois has logged more than 1,000 COVID-related deaths in January alone, averaging about 108 fatalities each day this month. That’s down from the first 10 days in December, when the state was averaging 159 deaths a day.

State health officials also announced 4,711 new and probable coronavirus cases, which were found in the latest batch of 77,775 tests reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last day.

That lowered the statewide seven-day positivity rate to 7.9% — a slight decline from last Sunday when that figure, which experts use to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading in the state, was 8.3%.

Statewide hospitalizations have also been on a gradual decline as Illinois continues to make slight progress in rebounding from a record-setting late fall resurgence.

As of Saturday night, 3,527 people were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19, with 740 of those patients in intensive-care units and 391 on ventilators, officials said. Those numbers are all down from last week.

This news comes as Illinois continues its COVID-19 vaccine rollout. More than 234,000 people have received doses across the state so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including about 54,000 Chicago residents.

It will be several months before shots are available for most of the state’s 12.7 million residents, officials have said. Frontline hospital and health care workers and long-term care facility residents are first in line for the vaccine. They’re followed by essential workers and people 65 or older with underlying health conditions.

In total, 1,02,750 people in Illinois have been confirmed to have the virus among the nearly 14.1 million tests processed over the last 11 months. That’s about 8.1% of the state’s population. The statewide recovery rate is 98%.

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