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808 new Illinois coronavirus infections, smallest daily caseload in 10 weeks

Fewer people are being tested each day, but the average positivity rate is back down to a record low.

Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus in November.
Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus in November 2020. Illinois reported its smallest COVID-19 caseload in two months Tuesday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Tuesday announced the smallest tally of new COVID-19 cases reported in Illinois since March 15 as 808 more residents tested positive for the coronavirus.

The caseload also marked the third straight day the state has logged fewer than 1,000 cases. That hadn’t happened since mid-July last year, a 10-month stretch that also included the worst of the pandemic in mid-November, when Illinois reported 10,000 or more new daily infections for 12 straight days.

One reason daily case numbers have shrunk over the past week is because fewer people are being tested each day. The latest cases were diagnosed among 42,841 tests, as the state has processed about 58,000 tests on average each day over the last week. More than 77,000 tests were being performed daily this time last month.

Still, the percentage of people testing positive is shrinking even when accounting for the drop in testing. Illinois’ average seven-day positivity rate is now down to 2.1%, as low as it’s ever been since COVID-19 first swept the state.

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.

Coronavirus hospitalizations are also down about 26% since the start of the month. Hospitals statewide were treating 1,419 COVID-19 patients Monday night, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

But the virus is still killing dozens of residents every day. The state reported 17 more COVID-19 deaths, including a Cook County man in his 30s.

Since March 2020, about 1.4 million residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 22,650 of them have died.

Forty percent of Illinois residents are now fully vaccinated, and 65% of adults have gotten at least one shot. A total of 49,402 residents rolled up their sleeves Monday.

On average, 79,485 vaccinations have been performed daily over the last week. That rate has fallen by 26% in the month.

In an effort to boost uptake, the city is hosting numerous vaccination events this week and beyond. Free Six Flags tickets will be offered to anyone who gets a shot this weekend — along with their families, up to five tickets total — at any of the city’s mass vaccination sites, or on the city’s “vaccination bus,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is hosting several free walk-up clinics Wednesday:

  • North Bethlehem Food Pantry, 8850 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
  • Atlas Senior Center, 1767 E. 79th St.
  • House of Vans Parking Lot, 113 N .Elizabeth St.
  • Care for Real Food Pantry, 5339 N. Sheridan Road.
  • Noble DRW College Prep, 931 S. Homan Ave.
  • St. Florian SDVP Food Pantry, 13115 S. Houston Ave.
  • Andersonville Farmer’s Market, 1500 W. Catalpa Ave.
  • St. Steven AME, 3042 W. Washington Blvd.

To sign up for an appointment elsewhere in the city, visit zocdoc.com or call (312) 746-4835. The city is offering in-home vaccinations to any resident 65 or older, as well as those with disabilities or underlying health conditions.

For suburban Cook County sites, visit vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or call (833) 308-1988.

To find providers elsewhere, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or call (833) 621-1284.