2,250 new COVID-19 cases reported as state’s positivity rate continues to climb

Illinois’ rolling test positivity rate rose to 3.2%, marking the highest average recorded since Feb. 11.

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Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus at the hospital’s drive-thru testing site, Thursday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2020.

Public health officials on Sunday announced that Illinois’ seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate increased to 3.2%, marking the highest average recorded since Feb. 11.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois’ COVID-19 positivity rate has climbed to its highest level since mid-February, continuing a troubling upward trend, public health officials said Sunday.

The latest tally of reported cases in Illinois is 2,250, diagnosed from 65,729 tests, bringing the state’s seven-day positivity rate to 3.2%. That’s the highest average recorded since Feb. 11, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Over the past two weeks, the statewide positivity rate has slowly increased from a record low of 2.1% recorded on March 13.

The rate is important to determine how quickly the virus is spreading. While it remains far below the peak levels of last fall, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have said the rising cases — mostly traced to young people — match the pattern Illinois saw on the way to a record-breaking resurgence.

Hospitalizations have also ticked upward over the past two weeks, with COVID-19 patients occupying 1,337 beds on Saturday night. Of those, 269 were hospitalized in intensive care units and 107 patients required ventilators.

Officials on Sunday also reported 23 deaths linked to COVID-19, including seven people from Cook County. That brings the state’s total death toll to 21,251.

Meanwhile, as vaccine supply has increased and inoculations have become more widely available, another 110,211 shots went into arms on Saturday. Over 6.2 million vaccine doses have been sent to providers in Illinois and more than 2 million residents have now been fully vaccinated, officials said.

Also on Sunday, Cook County officials opened 25,000 suburban vaccine appointments that were all booked within two hours.

The shots of the Pfizer vaccine were made available to those eligible for inoculations under phases 1A, 1B and 1B+ of the state’s vaccination plan, along with “certain individuals previously classified as 1C.” The latter group includes religious leaders and those who work in higher education, government, media, construction and the restaurant industry.

The first-dose appointments are for vaccination sites in Des Plaines and Forest Park, as well as those at Triton College in River Grove and South Suburban College in South Holland.

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