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Illinois sees fewest new coronavirus cases in three weeks, slight dip in testing positivity rate

More than 240,000 people have contracted COVID-19 in Illinois over the last five months, with 1,360 of the cases reported on Thursday.

Coronavirus tests are administered at a drive-thru site at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, 2231 N. Central Ave. in May.
Coronavirus tests are administered at a drive-thru site at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, 2231 N. Central Ave. in May.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Thursday announced 1,360 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Illinois, marking the smallest daily caseload in more than three weeks amid a summertime resurgence statewide.

Illinois last dipped below 1,400 daily cases Aug. 10 and has averaged 1,859 new cases per day since then — almost triple the state’s running rate in early July.

The newest cases were confirmed among 40,795 tests reported, lowering the state’s testing positivity rate over the last week to 4.4%. That number indicates how quickly the virus is spreading — and it has ticked up almost 2 full percentage points over the last two months.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday pointed to other states such as Florida and Texas that “thought that their increasing infection rates were unimportant, and then, in no time at all, their hospitals were overrun. When that happens, a lot more people die. I won’t let that happen here.”

That’s why the Democratic governor said he has banned indoor dining in the Will-Kankakee county region and downstate Metro East, which are both floating around 9% positivity.

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Chicago is at 5.7%, and suburban Cook County — one of 30 “warning level” counties across the state — is at 6.9%.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced the virus has killed 25 more residents, raising the state toll to 8,115.

The department said it’s had “a slowdown in data processing due to a large volume of testing. That’s affected some of their testing numbers this week, but it hasn’t delayed people receiving their own test results, officials said.

Since March, almost 4.2 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, with more than 240,000 confirmed to be carrying the virus.

As of Wednesday night, 1,620 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 360 in intensive care units and 144 on ventilators.