CHICAGO — A record 238 deaths from coronavirus were reported in the past 24 hours in Illinois.
It’s possible an unspecified number of deaths were delayed in being reported and happened over the holiday weekend, according to the state; still, the number marks the most COVID-19 deaths reported in a single day for Illinois during any point in the pandemic. More than 600 people have died just since Friday.
“Today marks a solemn milestone, with 238 lives lost to COVID-19 reported in the last 24 hours,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a Wednesday coronavirus update. “We have far surpassed our previous single-day high report of 191 fatalities in mid-May.”
Among the most recent victims were 71 people in Cook County, including four women and men in their 40s. At least 12,639 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 758 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
“This virus is a killer,” Pritzker said. “Let’s honor those it has taken by doing everything we can to prevent more people getting sick and dying. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay home whenever you can. We’ll get through this.”
Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, urged people to keep taking safety measures as the nation begins to look ahead to a vaccine. Health care workers and people in long-term care facilities could start getting vaccine in just two weeks in Illinois.
“Let’s not make this holiday season anyone’s last holiday season,” Ezike said. “Let’s stay the course and fight for everyone’s life.
“… Let’s make the holidays less harrowing, not just for the people who might end up sick and in the hospital with COVID or non-COVID illnesses, but also for the staff that will tend to all those COVID as well as non-COVID patients. … We’ve already lost too many lives. Yes, we’ve lost our normalcy, but we shouldn’t lose hope.”
The state also reported 9,757 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 748,603.
The state’s number of new cases and its positivity rates have been dropping — but hospitalizations still remain worryingly high, Pritzker said Monday. Hospitalizations are still 23 percent higher than they were during the peak in the spring.
That’s particularly concerning because officials expect there could be another spike in cases due to people gathering for Thanksgiving.
Because of that, every region in Illinois will remain under Tier 3 restrictions for at least several more weeks, Pritzker said earlier this week. The rules close museums, casinos and theaters; cut capacity at stores; stop indoor sports and put stricter rules in place at gyms and salons, among other things.
Chicago is also under a stay at home advisory. People are being asked to stay home as much as possible, leaving only for essential things like grocery shopping; to work from home if possible; to stop gathering with anyone outside their household; and to stop traveling.
The surge in new cases in Chicago — and across Illinois — can only partially be explained by increased testing; in reality, there are more cases because coronavirus is spreading so much, officials have said. There’s evidence of that in the way positivity rates and COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have rapidly risen in recent weeks.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose to 10.6 percent Wednesday with 85,507 tests reported. It was at 10.4 percent Tuesday. The figure represents total confirmed cases divided by total tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity, which measures how many tests were positive out of total tests, hit 12.5 percent Wednesday. It was at 12.2 percent Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, 5,764 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 1,190 people in the ICU and 714 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 37 deaths and 1,441 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 3,529 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 165,182 confirmed cases, according to state data.
An average of 1,478 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 26 percent decrease from the prior week. The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 11.5 percent, down from 12.6 percent the week before.
The city is seeing an average of 15 deaths per day, down from an average of 16 people dying per day the week prior.
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