Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, positivity on the rise — reopening on hold until ‘we get that under control’

“The number of hospitalizations is increasing, the number of cases of people going into ICU beds is increasing, and that’s of great concern to us,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

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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 in November 2020. Illinois on Wednesday reported its highest number of positive tests in a day since the end of January.

Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus at the hospital’s drive-thru testing site in November 2020. Illinois on Wednesday reported its highest number of positive tests since the end of January.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois public health officials on Wednesday reported 3,790 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of infections confirmed in a single day since late January — and the latest red flag of a statewide resurgence. 

The new cases raised Illinois’ average testing positivity rate to 4.1%, another figure the state hadn’t seen since Jan. 29, according to the Illinois Department of Health. 

It was at an all-time low of 2.1% on March 12, suggesting coronavirus transmission has nearly doubled over a span of less than four weeks. 

The uptick has been even more pronounced in Chicago, where the positivity rate is 5.2% and an average of 606 residents are testing positive every day — a 21% increase compared to last week. 

New COVID-19 cases by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

Serious cases of the disease are on the rise, too.

Hospitals across Illinois were treating 1,710 COVID-19 patients Tuesday night, the most they’ve admitted since Feb. 16 and a net increase of 300 in only a week. 

“The number of hospitalizations is increasing, the number of cases of people going into ICU beds is increasing, and that’s of great concern to us,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a Rockford news conference. “We want to make sure that before we reopen any further in the state that we get that under control.”

The virus also killed an additional 28 Illinoisans, including a Cook County man in his 30s. On average, 18 residents are dying with the virus each day. 

The fatality rate hasn’t changed much over the past two months, but it typically rises several weeks after case numbers jump. 

The death toll is now up to 21,423 among about 1.3 million residents who have contracted COVID-19 over the past year. 

Illinois’ latest case surge comes even as the number of fully vaccinated residents has nearly doubled the state’s case total. 

Officials reported the state’s third-most productive vaccination day yet with 139,724 doses going into arms Tuesday. About 2.5 million residents are considered fully immunized, or about 19.6% of the population. 

Over the past week, an average of 107,302 shots have been doled out per day. Any resident 16 or older will be eligible for a dose starting April 12, with Chicago vaccination sites following suit April 19. 

The governor said he’s “optimistic” that effort will help prevent infection numbers from ballooning to levels seen last fall during that devastating resurgence.

“As we get more people vaccinated, I think those case numbers, those hospitalization numbers [and] ICU bed numbers will come down, and of course the number of deaths, which is perhaps the most important thing,” Pritzker said. 

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