A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state could be five weeks away from a full reopening, Illinois public health officials on Friday reported 3,321 new coronavirus cases and 73,526 newly administered doses of vaccine.
That’s the highest daily caseload in a week, when 3,394 new infections were logged on April 29.
And while new infections ticked up, the number of shots in arms reported for Thursday went down from the last few days. Public official health officials said those daily totals from earlier this week had been inflated by a backlog of doses that went uncounted over the weekend due to a national reporting outage among several major pharmacies.
Thursday’s doses bring the seven-day average for COVID-19 vaccine shots administered to 65,750 — roughly half the comparable average of 132,979 less than a month ago on April 12.
Citing improved health metrics, the governor said Thursday that Illinois would enter a new “bridge” phase of lessened restrictions next Friday, and the state was on par to see a lifting of all restrictions by June 11. That’s about three weeks ahead of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s July 4 target for the city to return to normal.
Even as Pritzker said all the metrics were heading in the right direction, he cautioned nothing is certain.
“This good news comes with a caveat. We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable,” Pritzker said at his Thursday briefing. “Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now. We saw that last August and again last March.”
He urged residents to keep wearing masks and to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.
At an unrelated news conference Friday morning, Pritzker said the Thompson Center would “eventually” be reopened to the public now that the state is preparing to go back to normal operations, but “the first thing that’s going to happen is to get all of our workers back” at the state’s Chicago headquarters.
Each state agency has its own plan for bringing employees back to in-person work and all are in the process of getting employees back into their offices, Pritzker said.
State public health officials on Friday afternoon reported that coronavirus testing positivity rate ticked up slightly to 3.1 percent — from 3.0 percent Thursday. The Thursday reading was the lowest rate in six weeks.
The state also saw 36 more COVID-19 deaths Friday.
Among the dead in Cook County were: two women in their 50s, a man in his 50s, four women in their 60s, three men in their 80s and two men in their 90s.
The test results come from a batch of 101,005 specimens, state health officials said.
Some latest doses of vaccine administered Thursday bring the statewide total so far to a little over 9.7 million.
As of Thursday night, 1,977 people were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19; of those, 464 patients were in the ICU and 239 patients on ventilators, health officials said.
For help finding a vaccine appointment in Chicago, visit zocdoc.com or call (312) 746-4835.
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.
Contributing: Rachel Hinton