Fewest coronavirus cases in a day since first days of stay-at-home order

Chicago has lifted its emergency travel restrictions for travelers from all states as Illinois’ pandemic position improves — just 401 new coronavirus cases and an all-time low average seven-day testing positivity rate of 1.6%.

SHARE Fewest coronavirus cases in a day since first days of stay-at-home order
A woman pushes a stroller with children after exiting the security screening at O’Hare International Airport’s International Terminal last week. No travel quarantine restrictions are in place for people arriving to Chicago from any U.S. state.

No travel quarantine restrictions are in place for people arriving in Chicago from any U.S. state.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Illinois public health officials reported just 401 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the fewest infections confirmed in a day since the early weeks of the pandemic.

COVID-19 case counts previously hadn’t sunk below 500 in nearly a year, and still haven’t dipped lower than 400 since March 25, 2020 — days after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order went into effect.

On the worst day of the pandemic — Nov. 13, when a staggering 15,415 cases were diagnosed — 401 cases were stacking up every 38 minutes, on average.

Now, daily infections have cracked 1,000 only once in the last 10 days.

Case totals have bottomed out this week partly because fewer people got tested over the long holiday weekend. Illinois laboratories processed just 24,273 tests on Memorial Day, the lowest one-day test total since Sept. 1.

But even accounting for that drop, Illinois is in its best pandemic position yet with an all-time low average seven-day testing positivity rate of 1.6%.

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.

Other key metrics are setting records for the right reasons, too. Hospitals statewide were treating 1,031 COVID-19 patients Monday night, the fewest they’ve seen since the first waves of patients started hitting wards 15 months ago. The figures of 284 patients in intensive care and 162 on ventilators aren’t close to pandemic lows, but they’ve been trending that direction for about a month.

Tuesday’s COVID-19 death count of eight was also among the lowest recorded in months. The state is still averaging 27 deaths per day over the last week, down only slightly from the average of 28 at the beginning of May.

Overall, 1.4 million residents have tested positive throughout the crisis, and 22,835 have died.

Because the pandemic clouds are clearing across the rest of the U.S., travelers to Chicago no longer need to quarantine when they arrive in the city, and they won’t need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test either.

For the first time since the pandemic hit, no U.S. states or territories are considered coronavirus hot spots under the Chicago Department of Public Health’s emergency travel order, which has been in place since July.

The order flags states with a COVID-19 case rate of 15 or more cases per 100,000 residents per day. Only four states are recording more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents per day. Indiana and Michigan are close to 8, while Illinois is at 7.3 and Wisconsin is at 4.3.

During the worst days of the pandemic, most of the country was considered a hot spot — and more often than not, Illinois itself met the city’s criteria for self-isolation.

“This improvement has been predominantly, of course, the result of the vaccine,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “This is good news, but by no means does it signal that we can drop our defenses against COVID-19.”

More than 11.3 million shots have gone into arms statewide, including 17,077 on Monday. About 41% of all residents are fully vaccinated, including 51% of adults. Two-thirds of those 18 or older have gotten at least one shot.

The travel order — which has been purely educational and has not resulted in any fines — remains in place, and restrictions could be reinstated if other states see resurgences.

To sign up for a vaccine appointment 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.

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