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Illinois reports 1,740 new COVID-19 cases — and highest daily rate of positive test results in two and half months

The state has reported four-digit caseloads of COVID-19 for four straight weeks.

A blood sample is taken for a coronavirus antibody test at the drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights in May.
A blood sample is taken for a coronavirus antibody test at the drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of St. Rosalie Catholic Parish in Harwood Heights in May.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois’ coronavirus testing positivity rate inched up again Tuesday with the latest 1,740 cases confirmed statewide.

Those new cases were diagnosed among 34,175 tests, or about 5.1% of them — the highest positivity rate for a single day in Illinois in more than 10 weeks.

The state hadn’t cracked 5% since June 5, when 6.1% of COVID-19 tests results came back positive.

That raises Illinois’ seven-day testing positivity rate over the last week to 4.3%, a number that has crawled up from 2.5% on July 7.

Health officials say that rate indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading. Near the height of the pandemic in mid-May, it soared close to 17% across Illinois.

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But the increase over the last month — including four straight weeks with four-digit daily caseloads — has prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team to sound the alarm, and to intervene this week to quell outbreaks downstate.

“Our goals — to save lives, to reduce the spread of the virus, to keep the economy moving forward — far outweigh any personal inconvenience,” the Democratic governor tweeted Monday, after his office announced a series of “mitigation” efforts after the positivity rate surpassed 8% in the downstate Metro East region.

Bars and restaurants there are now required to close by 11 p.m., while group gatherings are limited to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of the venue’s capacity. Full-on bar and restaurant shutdowns could be on tap if rates don’t go down, Pritzker warned.

“Wear a mask, keep some distance, and don’t indulge others who think they know more than the experts. We Illinoisans are safer and stronger when we follow the science and stand together,” Pritzker said.

Metro East was up to 9.4% positivity on Tuesday, marking nine straight days of increases.

Chicago has remained level at 5%, while suburban Cook County has held steady at 6.1%.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday also announced the latest 27 deaths attributed to the virus, raising the state death toll to 7,782 since March.

A total of 209,594 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois, among more than 3.4 million who have been tested.

As of Monday night, 1,510 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 335 in intensive care units and 128 on ventilators.