7,538 new COVID-19 cases reported; state’s second-highest daily count

Tighter state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on indoor services at bars and restaurants, kicked in statewide Wednesday.

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All 11 of the state’s regions will be operating under COVID-19 restrictions, which includes bans on indoor services at bars and restaurants, beginning Wednesday.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday painted what he called a “grim picture” of Illinois’ ongoing battle with the coronavirus.

COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed, the death toll continues to rise and hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last month.

Public health officials announced 7,538 new COVID-19 cases, the state’s second-highest daily case count of the pandemic.

The record high daily count was set on Halloween at 7,899. The next highest tally was the next day: 6,980 cases.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate — the figure showing how rapidly the virus is spreading — was 8.5%, up from 8.2% on Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

An additional 55 deaths were reported Wednesday. The state is averaging 45 coronavirus-related deaths each day so far in November — up from 23 at the beginning of October.

Illinois has also seen a rise in inpatient care for those with COVID-19, as hospitals continue to treat the most coronavirus patients they’ve seen since the end of May. As of Tuesday night, 3,761 people were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19, with 776 of those patients in intensive-care units and 321 on ventilators, officials said.

“The virus is spreading and every region is suffering from its insidious invisible contagion,” Pritzker said Wednesday during a press briefing. “Make no mistake: This pandemic isn’t over, not by a long shot. ... We have to act differently.”

As of Wednesday, which marked the eighth consecutive day the state has reported more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases, all 11 of the state’s regions are operating under tighter state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on indoor services at bars and restaurants. Those mitigations were put in place after each region saw “severe increases” in positivity, ranging from a low of 10% in regions 5 and 6 to a high of 15.7% in region 1, which covers northwestern Illinois, Pritzker said.

Both Pritzker and Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said it’ll take a collaborative effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the state. Both encouraged people to wear masks, maintain proper social distancing and to get tested after possible exposure.

“The virus is spreading rapidly,” Ezike said. “We are fully into the second wave or second surge and the cases are increasing exponentially. ... Please help stop the spread of the virus, wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.”

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