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More dips in summer COVID-19 roller coaster: State’s daily caseload and positive test rates down after week of climbs

The 1,337 newly diagnosed cases marked the state’s smallest caseload in a month and the lowest proportion of positive tests since July 18.

A person conducts his own COVID-19 mouth swab test at Community Organized Relief Effort’s (CORE) COVID-19 testing facility at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village last week.
A person conducts his own COVID-19 mouth swab test at Community Organized Relief Effort’s (CORE) COVID-19 testing facility at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village last week.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Public health officials announced another relatively low batch of 1,337 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 statewide on Wednesday, offering some rare signs of optimism toward the end of a troubling summer.

The latest cases — the smallest caseload in a month — were confirmed among 48,029 coronavirus tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, meaning about 2.8% of those who were tested received positive results. That’s the lowest proportion of positive tests the state has seen in a single day in almost two months, since July 18.

And it was enough to lower the statewide testing positivity rate over the last week to 3.7% — the first time that key indicator of transmission has dipped below 4% since the end of July.

The state recorded some of its highest case tallies since May last week, averaging more than 2,400 positive tests per day. Since Sunday, Illinois has averaged about 1,378 new cases per day.

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But the Illinois Department of Public Health also announced the virus has killed 30 more residents, including a Cook County woman in her 50s. That’s the state’s highest daily death toll in a week — and well above its average of 20 coronavirus deaths per day of the last month — following three consecutive days with single-digit tolls.

Experts have warned more deaths would follow Illinois’ summertime case rise, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker has emphasized that the “insidious” virus isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Think about it this way. If you have a 6% or 7% positivity rate, that means that when you walk into a room of 100 people, there are going to be six people in that room who are mixing and mingling who have it,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference in downstate Normal.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at Illinois State University on Wednesday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at Illinois State University on Wednesday.
Screenshot of State of Illinois live stream

“So think about that when you’re gathering in a large group when you’re not supposed to. … You’re gonna run across somebody who’s got it, so wear your mask, keep distance, make sure you’re adhering to the capacity limits,” Pritzker said.

Chicago is at 5.1% positivity and suburban Cook at 6.2%, while Lake and McHenry counties are at 6.1% and Kane and DuPage counties are at 5.5%.

The Will-Kankakee county region has fallen to 7.4% positivity after Pritzker’s health team banned indoor dining there due to a rate that previously topped 8%.

Since March, 4.5 million Illinois residents have been tested for COVID-19 and 253,690 have been confirmed to carry it. Of those, 8,214 have died.

As of Tuesday night, 1,580 coronavirus patients were hospitalized statewide, with 357 in intensive care units and 133 on ventilators.