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117 more Illinois coronavirus deaths as positivity rate falls

Forty-nine of the latest victims were from the Chicago area, including a Will County man in his 20s.

Posters with measures to ensure social distancing and reducing spread of COVID-19 are pictured on display last week at South Shore Fine Arts Academy.
Posters with measures to ensure social distancing and reducing spread of COVID-19 are pictured on display last week at South Shore Fine Arts Academy.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The coronavirus has killed 117 more Illinoisans, but most of the state’s key metrics took another step in the right direction Tuesday as public health officials announced the latest 6,642 cases of COVID-19.

They were diagnosed among 93,491 tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, lowering the average statewide testing positivity rate from 7.6% to 7.5%. That key indicator of transmission has been on the decline for about a week.

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients increased slightly to 3,553 as of Monday night, but that figure has fallen off by about 30% over the last month.

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Tuesday’s death toll is close to the state’s grim average of 113 daily COVID-19 fatalities over the last week.

Forty-nine of the latest victims were from the Chicago area, including a Will County man in his 20s, a DuPage County woman and a Lake County man in their 30s and a Cook County man in his 40s.

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Nursing homes account for about half the state’s pandemic death total of 17,743. The overall recovery rate for the 1 million-plus Illinois residents who have contracted the virus since March is 98%.

Roughly 354,000 people across the state have received coronavirus vaccine doses so far, including Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who received her first shot Tuesday at North Riverside Health Center.

“I hugged and cried with my mother in person during my father’s burial in February, and I’m desperate to touch and hold and kiss my sweet mother again,” an emotional Ezike said. “We all need to get vaccinated, and I can’t wait till we have enough for every single person, so we can put this nightmare behind us.”

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike receives her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday at North Riverside Health Center.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike receives her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday at North Riverside Health Center.
State of Illinois livestream

Roughly 810,000 health care workers and nursing home residents are first in line for vaccination. About 3.2 million essential workers and people over 65 will be eligible to begin getting shots within a few weeks, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said.

At least a few months remain before most of the state’s 12.7 million residents have access to the vaccine.