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Positivity rate down as coronavirus claims 101 more Illinois lives

Coronavirus hospitalization rates are as low as they’ve been since the beginning of November, but an average of more than 100 people are still dying every day.

Nurse Tamara Jones puts on new personal protective equipment as she prepares to checks on a patient with COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital last month.
Nurse Tamara Jones puts on new personal protective equipment as she prepares to checks on a patient with COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital last month.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois logged 101 more COVID-19 deaths Saturday as public health officials announced 6,717 more people have been infected with the virus statewide.

The new cases were detected among 102,903 tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, keeping the seven-day average testing positivity rate trending in the right direction. Following a slight increase after Christmas, that key indicator of transmission has remained stable for about a week and is now down to 8.3%.

Hospitalizations have declined considerably as well since the state suffered a brutal autumn resurgence. As of Friday night, 3,589 beds were occupied by coronavirus patients, with 742 receiving intensive care and 393 on ventilators. Those figures are all as low as they’ve been since since the start of November.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker said this week that some business restrictions could start being loosened next week in regions seeing sustained improvement, but Chicago and suburban Cook County, both at 10.4% positivity, aren’t currently hitting all the governor’s benchmarks.

Worse, COVID-19 is still claiming an average of 113 Illinois lives every day to start the new year. That’s down from a death rate of about 155 per day over the first nine days of December.

Forty-eight of the latest victims were from the Chicago area, including three Cook County men and a woman in their 40s.

Since March, more than a million Illinoisans have contracted COVID-19 and 17,494 of them have died. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for nearly half the death toll. The recovery rate is 98%.

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Just over 234,000 people have received COVID-19 vaccine doses across the state so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including about 54,000 Chicago residents.

Several months remain before most of Illinois’ 12.7 million residents have access to shots. The state is still working to vaccinate the roughly 810,000 health care workers and nursing home residents who are first in line, followed by about 3.2 million essential workers and people over 65.