Public health officials reported 3,059 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Illinois on Thursday, the state’s biggest caseload since the initial peak of the pandemic nearly five months ago.
The state last topped 3,000 daily coronavirus cases on May 14, when 3,239 people were infected.
The Illinois Department for Public Health reported more than 5,300 cases on Sept. 4, but that bloated figure was the result of a three-day data processing backlog.
The state now has logged an average of about 2,100 new cases per day over the last two weeks, almost triple the state’s rate in early July — but still shy of the roughly 2,500 cases that were being added per day in early May.
The state’s testing capacity has ballooned since then, though. Thursday’s hefty caseload was confirmed among 72,491 tests submitted to the state, the fourth highest total ever.
More than 58,000 tests have been processed per day on average over the last two weeks, compared to only about 17,300 per day in early May.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health said “it is more informative to look at trends over time and using 7-day rolling averages” than daily case totals.
The new cases still raised the state’s average positivity rate over the last week to 3.7%, up two notches from Wednesday. Experts use that number to gauge how quickly the virus is spreading.
The rolling positivity rate was a whopping 17% the last time the state topped 3,000 daily cases.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has touted the state’s improvement over the last two months following a mid-summer resurgence, but on Wednesday he warned that the state’s progress has “cooled down” with positivity consistently ticking up in two of the state’s 11 regions.
Chicago has held steady at 4.2% positivity. Suburban Cook County is at 4.9%.
State health officials also said 32 more deaths have been attributed to the virus, raising Illinois’ pandemic death toll to 8,910.
Since March, 6.1 million COVID-19 tests have been submitted to the state, and 310,700 people have received positive results — about 2.5% of Illinois’ population.
As of Wednesday night, 1,755 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 392 receiving intensive care and 163 on ventilators.