Illinois’ COVID-19 testing positivity rate sinks to lowest point ever — yeah, ever
The positivity rate has illustrated the ebbs and devastating flows of case spikes and falls throughout a chaotic year. In the early weeks of the pandemic, the state’s average figure soared past 20%, then eased down to about 2.5% last summer. By mid-fall it was skyrocketing again, up to 13.2%. It’s now down to 2% — the lowest it’s sunk since experts started tracking it.
COVID-19 is spreading more slowly in Illinois than it ever has since first upending life across the state more than a year ago.
That’s according to infection figures released Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which reported 1,139 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed among the latest 57,402 tests.
The average statewide positivity rate, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team has used throughout the pandemic as a barometer of how rapidly the virus is circulating, is down to 2% — the lowest it’s sunk since experts started tracking it.
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The positivity rate has helped illustrate the ebbs and devastating flows of case spikes and falls throughout a chaotic year.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, the state’s average figure soared past 20%, then eased down to about 2.5% early last summer.
By mid-fall it was skyrocketing again, up to 13.2% on Nov. 13 when Illinois logged a record-setting 15,415 COVID-19 cases in a single day, the most recorded by any state in the nation up to that point.
Infections decreased into the new year as COVID-19 vaccines became available, falling to just 2.1% in mid-March. A mini-surge saw that number double by early April, but numbers have been on a steady decline ever since.
New COVID-19 cases by day
Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times
Source: Illinois Department of Public Health
Chicago’s regional positivity rate is 2.8%, just shy of its all-time low of 2.7% recorded in early March.
“Even as we’ve made these movements toward reopening we’ve continued to see improvement in our outbreak, and that’s really good news,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.
It’s no coincidence cases have fallen off as more people have gotten vaccinated, Arwady said.
More than 11 million shots have gone into arms over the past five months, including 59,494 on Tuesday.
Officials also reported 27 more COVID-19 deaths, including a man in his 30s from Kane County. Illinois’ death toll stands at 22,676 among 1.4 million people who have been confirmed infected.
About two-thirds of adults statewide have gotten at least one shot, and nearly half are fully vaccinated. State public health officials say “that percent needs to increase to help prevent new variants from causing a resurgence of cases in Illinois.”
But vaccine demand has fallen by about 15% since the start of the month, with the state now averaging 71,215 shots administered per day over the last week.
The state is hoping to get more shots in travelers’ arms throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend at Union Station, which will host a walk-up Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic Friday through Sunday. Vax sites are also being set up at a handful of downstate highway travel centers.
“After an incredibly difficult year, life-saving vaccines have truly opened the door for a summer of fun and venturing out, which is why Illinois is pulling out all the stops to make accessing these vaccines as easy as stopping for gas,” Pritzker said in a statement.
City officials are hosting eight vaccination events across Chicago Thursday:
- Auburn-Gresham’s Health Fair, 1737 E. 95th St.
- TSA: Midwest Corps Pantry, 20 S. Campbell Ave.
- Salvation Army Red Shield Center, 945 W. 69th St.
- St. Martin De Porres, 5112 W. Washington Blvd.
- GAGDC Auburn Gresham Health Fair on the Block, 7900 S. Racine Ave.
- Evening Star MBC food pantry, 2050 W. 59th St.
- Chicago CRED, 519 W. 103rd St.
- NOBLE Gary Comer College Prep, 7131 S. South Chicago Ave.
To sign up for an appointment elsewhere in Chicago, 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.