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Illinois sees 1,668 new COVID-19 cases, ending August with average daily caseload more than twice that of June

Thankfully, deaths are not again on the rise — as cases in recent weeks have been traced to younger and more resilient age groups. But public health officials have been predicting a spike in fatalities is looming.

Workers check in residents at a mobile COVID-19 testing site set up on a vacant lot in the Austin neighborhood on June 23, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 23: Workers check in residents at a mobile COVID-19 testing site set up on a vacant lot in the Austin neighborhood on June 23, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The site is one of four mobile testing sites, two community-based sites and two first-responder-focused sites being implemented by the city. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775526455
Getty

The month of August averaged 1,812 coronavirus cases per day, not quite back to where Illinois was at during the peak month of May, when the state averaged more than 2,100 cases per day — but definitely backing up officials’ concerns that the state is trending in the wrong direction.

On Monday, the last day of August, state health officials reported 1,668 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths.

That ends the month with a caseload shy of May’s alarming average, but more than twice the daily case average of 764 in June, and up sharply from the 1,150-daily average in July.

Thankfully, deaths are not again on the rise — as cases in recent weeks have been traced to younger and more resilient age groups. But public health officials have been predicting a spike in fatalities is looming.

The daily death count during the peak month of May was 98. June saw 51 deaths a day. There were 19 per day in July. And in August, there were 17 deaths per day.

For months, Gov. J.B. Pritzer and Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike have been warning “we are going in the wrong direction.” Just last week, they put 30 of the state’s 102 counties at the COVID-19 “warning level,” a designation triggered when an area hits two or more “risk indicators.” The warnings could lead to tightening of restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses and activities.

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks at a briefing last year.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks at a briefing in March.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

New to the warning list last week was suburban Cook County, prompting Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to warn “we are at a crossroads.

“We need everyone to wear a mask, watch their distance, and wash their hands consistently to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t lose the gains we have made,” Preckwinkle said in a statement.

The new cases reported on Monday were detected among the latest batch of 47,379 tests, dropping the state’s seven-day positivity rate a hair from 4.2% to 4.1%

Illinois has totaled 235,023 cases and 8,026 deaths over the last seven months.