Illinois’ positivity rate falls for 9th consecutive day

North central Illinois is the latest region to have its coronavirus metrics improve enough to allow limited indoor dining.

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The statewide seven-day positivity rate dropped to 6.1%, the lowest that figure has been since Oct. 25.

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Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate fell for a ninth consecutive day as another region’s coronavirus metrics improved enough to allow limited indoor dining.

State health officials on Sunday announced 4,162 new and probable COVID-19 cases, which were found among the latest batch of 96,845 tests reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last day.

Health officials also reported an additional 29 virus-related deaths, including 24 recorded in the Chicago area over the last 24 hours.

The statewide seven-day positivity rate dropped to 6.1%, the lowest that figure has been since Oct. 25. The improvement of that metric over the last week-and-a-half is significant because experts use it to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading in the state. Last Sunday, Illinois’ seven-day average positivity rate was 7.9%.

Another positive sign that the state is rebounding from a late fall resurgence is that COVID-19 hospitalizations are as low as they’ve been since Nov. 1. As of Saturday night, 3,408 beds were occupied statewide by coronavirus patients, with 720 of those patients in intensive-care units and 387 on ventilators, officials said.

As a result of the state’s encouraging trend, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has started to loosen business restrictions for some of the state’s 11 regions, including Region 2, which joined Region 5 Sunday as the only two regions that have moved into Tier 1 mitigation. That means bars and restaurants in Region 2, which covers 20 north central counties, and Region 5, which covers most of the south counties, can resume limited indoor service.

Other regions — including Chicago (Region 11) and its surrounding suburbs (Region 10) — are expected to move down to Tier 2 mitigation “in the coming days,” Pritzker said Friday. That will allow for larger venues, like casinos, museums and big-box retailers to increase their capacity, and bring back indoor fitness classes and recreation programs.

This comes as the U.S. continues a historic vaccine rollout. In Illinois, more than 487,000 vaccines have been administered, including 66,679 for long-term care facilities, officials said. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 23,546 doses.

In total, 1,068,829 people in Illinois have been confirmed to have the virus among the nearly 14.7 million tests processed over the last 11 months. That’s about 8.4% of the state’s population. The statewide recovery rate is 98%.

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