Sheriff Dart has COVID-19; 7,873 new cases, 108 more deaths announced
Cases of COVID-19 and deaths from the respiratory disease dipped in the last week although hospitalizations increased, as officials Saturday reported 7,873 new cases and 108 more people succumbing to the respiratory disease.
Cook County authorities also announced that Sheriff Tom Dart tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and was recovering at home.
Dart's last day at work was Friday, Nov. 19. He began experiencing virus symptoms Nov. 20 and self-quarantined, according to a news release. He was tested Tuesday.
"The sheriff is uncertain where he contracted the virus, but has been working around the clock to combat the virus at the sheriff's office," the release stated.
Illinois' virus test positivity rate remained flat at 10.1% based on a seven-day average, reflecting Friday's tally, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced.
Average daily cases last week (Nov. 22 to Saturday) stand at 9,521, a decline of 20 percent from 11,900 a day from Nov. 15 to Nov. 21.
Deaths decreased to an average 101 a day last week contrasted with 109.6 people Nov. 15 through Nov. 21.
Overall, the seven-day average of hospitalizations rose from 5,888 patients Nov. 14 through Nov. 20, to 6,021 from Nov. 21 to Friday, an increase of 133 people a day. Patient tallies lag by a day in reporting.
Patients in hospitals with COVID-19 totaled 5,775 as of Friday night, lower than the daily average.
That's not unusual for major holidays, said Elmhurst Hospital physician Phillip J. Cozzi, a pulmonary medicine specialist.
"When I walked through the emergency room, it was surprisingly empty," said Cozzi, who worked the ICU overnight shift on Thanksgiving. "I talked about it with the ER doctor who said it's always like this on Thanksgiving."
Reasons included, "it was very nice weather, (and) people don't want to be in the hospital," he explained. "The ones in hospital are (almost) climbing out the window."
Cozzi also noted that fewer people were tested for COVID-19 over the holiday and on a positive note, "possibly the restrictions are starting to work. We may be seeing an additional benefit from that."
On Nov. 13, Gov. J.B. Pritzker imposed tighter pandemic-related rules that included limits of 50% capacity at grocery stores and 25% at other stores, suspending indoor group sports, closing casinos and movie theaters, and banning events at banquet halls, party venues and clubs.
However, medical experts are worried about rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the coming days from people who traveled over the holiday and gathered with large groups inside for a lengthy meal, ignoring warnings to celebrate at home.
"It's too early to tell if there will be a Thanksgiving surge," Cozzi said.
State labs processed 79,055 virus tests in the last 24 hours. Total COVID-19 infections are at 712,936 and fatalities are at 12,137 Illinoisans since the disease began.