Highest COVID-19 case count for Illinois in two months

The state public health department has noted that severe cases ending in hospitalization or death have remained very low — though hospital figures are now on the rise.

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Masked passengers board an “L” train last week. COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Illinois.

Masked passengers board an “L” train last week. COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Illinois.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

COVID-19 cases are piling up statewide at the fastest rate seen in over two months, according to figures released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The state reported 4,593 new positive tests, the most in a day since Feb. 11.

On average, more than 3,200 residents have come down with the virus each day over the past week, the worst COVID clip that officials have reported since Feb. 17. And Illinois’ latest pandemic upswing is surely even greater, since those figures don’t include at-home tests.

Officials are downplaying the slow, steady rise in cases that has emerged since roughly around St. Patrick’s Day, noting that the state hasn’t seen anything near the meteoric explosion in cases caused by the Omicron variant earlier this year. Almost 10 times as many people were being infected each day in early January.

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.

The state public health department has also noted that severe cases ending in hospitalization or death have remained very low — though hospital figures are now on the rise.

About 53 patients have been admitted to COVID wards each day over the past week, with a total of 714 beds occupied by coronavirus patients as of Wednesday night — the most since March 9. In the worst days of the Omicron surge, more than 7,300 Illinoisans were hospitalized.

COVID deaths remain near a pandemic low with an average of six fatalities per day over the last week, but it typically takes a few weeks for a rise in hospitalizations to result in a rise in deaths. In late January, the virus was claiming upward of 130 Illinois lives per day.

The same pattern is playing out in Chicago, where cases have jumped 25% in the past week, hospitalizations have inched upward by 5% and deaths are at an all-time low. The city is averaging only about one COVID death per week.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has said overall risk remains low in the city because almost 75% of residents have completed at least their initial vaccine series.

Dr. Allison Arwady speaks at a news conference in March.

Dr. Allison Arwady speaks at a news conference in March.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times file

During an online Q&A on Tuesday, she called the case rise “a little bit of a ripple as opposed to a wave.”

“Most of that is because of vaccination, so really, the news continues to be good on the severe outcome front,” Arwady said. “It is the most important thing for helping to protect against severe outcomes, especially hospitalization and death.”

For help finding a shot, visit chi.gov/covidvax or call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 312-746-4835.

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