Illinois’ infection rate drops to record low as state prepares to fully reopen

The current seven-day positivity rate is 1% — the lowest it’s been since experts started tracking that metric last May.

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A COVID-19 vaccine is administered in January at Norwegian American Hospital. Officials are urging more people to get vaccinated and boosted as Omicron arrives.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Illinois’ infection rate dropped to a record low — again — this week as the state prepares to reopen Friday.

With the return to a new “normal” around the corner, state health officials Wednesday reported 408 new coronavirus cases and an additional 23 deaths — 10 of which were in the Chicago area.

The new cases were detected among 41,758 tests processed by the Illinois Department of Public Health within the last 24 hours, officials said Wednesday. That dropped the seven-day positivity rate to 1% — the lowest it’s been since experts started tracking that metric last May.

Coronavirus hospitalizations have also plummeted in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday night, 797 people across Illinois were hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 209 of those patients in the ICU and 109 on ventilators, officials said.

This is welcoming news with the state set to fully reopen before the weekend.

Illinois will drop most of its coronavirus restrictions at most businesses Friday as it enters Phase 5 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan. Masks will still be required in schools, health care settings, public transit and some businesses. Experts recommend that unvaccinated people continue to wear masks in other public settings, too.

More than 68% of adults in the state have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 51% of people 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the IDPH. Despite the progress, Illinois is still a long way from reaching the threshold for herd immunity, which experts estimate would require at least 80% of the population to have immunity.

An additional 50,231 people were inoculated Tuesday, bringing the state’s nearly six-month total of vaccines administered to 11,759,105.

The state dolled out an average of about 45,850 shots per day over the last week — down more than 65% from two months ago when the state was averaging 132,810 inoculations per day.

With the vaccination rate slumping, public health officials and health care providers have gotten creative, offering various incentives for unvaccinated people rolling up their sleeves.

This week, the White Sox partnered with Cook County Health to offer fans a pair of free tickets if they receive their shot at Guaranteed Rate Field before the fifth inning of any game during the Sox’ series against the Blue Jays. The event, which is part of Major League Baseball’s “Vaccine at the Plate” initiative, runs through Thursday.

Statewide, vaccines are available to anyone 12 and older. The shots are free and don’t require insurance.

For help finding a vaccine appointment in Chicago, visit 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 or call (833) 308-1988.

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

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