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Coronavirus claims 37 more Illinois lives — worst daily toll in seven weeks — and infects another 2,157

As new restrictions were imposed Wednesday in Will and Kankakee counties, the state is now averaging about 20 deaths per day over the last two weeks, compared to about 16 per day over the previous two weeks.

Nurse Jeanette Averett comforts a COVID-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in April.
Nurse Jeanette Averett comforts a COVID-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in April.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

COVID-19 has killed 37 more Illinoisans, public health officials announced Wednesday, marking the state’s highest number of deaths attributed to the virus in a single day in seven weeks.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also said 2,157 more coronavirus cases have been confirmed, the seventh time the state has crossed the 2,000-case threshold so far this month.

Cases have trended upward in Illinois since early July, and experts have warned that a spike in deaths would follow.

Wednesday’s toll marked only the fifth time the state has tallied 30 or more deaths since July 7, when 37 lives were also lost.

The latest victims included a Cook County youth in her teens, officials said.

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Illinois is now averaging about 20 deaths per day over the last two weeks, compared to about 16 per day over the previous two weeks.

The virus has more typically preyed on the elderly. Most of those infected show mild or no symptoms. The statewide recovery rate is 95%.

The new cases were diagnosed among the latest batch of 50,362 tests submitted, lowering the statewide testing positivity rate over the last week to 4%.

That number indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading — and it’s still rising dangerously in two Illinois regions, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team.

New state-imposed restrictions including a ban on indoor dining went into effect Wednesday in Will and Kankakee counties, where the average regional positivity rate is at 8.3%.

Less stringent measures have been in place for a week in downstate Metro East — a decision Pritzker has acknowledged was a “mistake” — but the state intervention is expected to be tightened further as the region has soared to 9.7% positivity.

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Chicago’s positivity rate dropped a notch to 5.3%, while suburban Cook County’s slow rise continued, up to 6.8%.

Pritzker also instituted new guidelines this week requiring bar and restaurant patrons to wear masks when interacting with servers and other wait staff, in a renewed effort to get residents to take health precautions more seriously.

“Stop wearing your face coverings incorrectly,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday. “You’re literally contributing to infection transmission by doing so, and by contributing to infection transmission, potentially to an additional life that will be lost.”

Since March, more than 3.8 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, almost 226,000 have tested positive, and 7,954 of those have died.

The state’s hospitals are well below capacity. As of Tuesday night, 1,573 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 350 in intensive care units and 132 on ventilators.