Illinois sees 1,624 new COVID-19 infections, biggest daily caseload since Memorial Day

In June, Illinois’ daily caseloads measured in four digits only twice, but it’s already happened 10 times with over a week left in July. The state is averaging about 1,032 new cases daily so far this month.

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A Norwood Park Fire Department firefighter gets his blood drawn for a coronavirus antibody test by a phlebotomist at a drive-thru testing site in Harwood Heights this spring.

A Norwood Park Fire Department firefighter gets his blood drawn for a coronavirus antibody test by a phlebotomist at a drive-thru testing site in Harwood Heights this spring.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Illinois’ gradual rise in coronavirus cases took another step up Thursday as health officials announced an additional 1,624 people have tested positive, the state’s highest daily caseload in two months.

The new cases were confirmed among the latest batch of 39,706 test results reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health, raising the statewide testing positivity rate over the last week to 3.4% — nearly a full percentage point higher than it was two weeks ago.

The latest tally — the biggest number of new cases Illinois has seen in a single day since May 25 — was announced a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker sounded the alarm on the state’s steady increase in coronavirus cases over the last few weeks.

In June, Illinois’ daily caseloads measured in four digits only twice, but it’s already happened 10 times with over a week left in July. The state is averaging about 1,032 new cases daily so far this month.

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Illinois’ positivity rate — which experts point to as a measure of how fast the virus is moving through an area — is still less than half of the rate held by most of its immediate neighbors. And it’s a far cry from positivity rates topping 20% in some states across the South and West.

“A rise is still a rise, and it is on all of us to bring these numbers down,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “In every one of the states like Arizona and Florida that are in full-blown crisis right now, it started with a gradual rise in the numbers. … You can go from 3% positivity to Arizona’s 23% positivity in the blink of an eye.”

Additionally, officials on Thursday attributed 20 more deaths to COVID-19, including a Cook County man in his 30s.

Since early March, 7,367 people have died in Illinois among at least 166,925 who have contracted the virus. Almost 2.4 million people have been tested.

As of Wednesday night, 1,473 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 309 in intensive care units and 135 on ventilators.

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