Illinois is sixth in COVID-19 death toll, but it's 24th in fatality rate

Only five states have had more residents die from a COVID-19 infection than Illinois, but the survival rate among those with the virus is better in Illinois than in almost half of all the states.

Only New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan and California have had more deaths than Illinois' 3,111 fatalities as of Thursday.

But in 23 states and the District of Columbia, people with COVID-19 were more likely to die than in Illinois, a Daily Herald analysis of state COVID-19 statistics shows.

The highest fatality rate is in Michigan, at 9.5% of those who test positive for the coronavirus, accounting for 4,345 deaths. That compares to 4.4% of patients dying among those who test positive in Illinois.

After Michigan, states with the highest fatality rates are Connecticut at 8.8%, New York at 8%, Louisiana at 7.2% and New Jersey at 6.6%.

The lowest fatality rate is in South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, all at 1.1%.

New York leads the country in the number of deaths with 26,144, according to a national COVID-19 status report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Statistics for Chicago and the suburbs nearly mirror those for Illinois as a whole, since almost 92% of the state's cases are from the nine counties defined by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week as the Northeast region for purposes of coronavirus control.

The nine-county Northeast region alone has more deaths than 44 states and the District of Columbia, but it has a fatality rate similar to that of Illinois as a whole.

The Northeast region is one of four in the state where infection rates, hospitalizations and hospital readiness are being monitored by Illinois Department of Public Health officials to determine when to ease social and business restrictions. The nine counties in the region are Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

Health officials across the country have noted that poverty and access to health care play a role in the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Public health experts also caution that variations in how tests are performed and in the number of tests make it difficult to compare data.

"It's hard to compare one place to the next because all of this is evolving rapidly," said Dr. Mark Steven Dworkin, professor and associate director of epidemiology at the University of Illinois-Chicago's School of Public Health. "Testing is still different, which can affect all the things you're seeing."

Here's a look at how Illinois and the Northeast region stack up nationally on some other key measures.

Cases, infection rates

Just three states, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, had more confirmed COVID-19 infections than Illinois as of Thursday.

The 70,871 confirmed cases in Illinois were more than the combined cases in the 21 states with the lowest number of infections.

Illinois had the 10th highest infection rate in the country, with 18.7% of those tested through Thursday being positive for the virus. The rate for the state's Northeast region was even higher, at 22.4%.

New Jersey's 51% infection rate led the nation. That state conducted 261,869 tests, and 133,345 were confirmed with infections.

In recent weeks, Illinois has increased testing capacity and opened the opportunity to be tested to a larger segment of the population. While the number of cases has grown, the infection rate has declined.

"As testing eligibility expands, we'd expect to see fewer positive cases because the groups that have a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19 or that are most likely to be sick from COVID-19 are at a lower proportion of those being tested," said Hanna Kite, a Cook County Department of Public Health spokeswoman.


Only New York, California, Florida and Texas performed more tests on their residents than Illinois. Through Thursday, Illinois had conducted 379,043 COVID-19 tests. New York had tested the most of any state, conducting nearly 1.1 million tests.

The 290,201 tests conducted on residents in the nine counties of Illinois' Northeast region account for more than 76% of all the tests in the state. The Northeast region alone conducted more tests than either Pennsylvania or New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Illinois has tested slightly less than 3% of the population. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have tested a greater percentage of their population. However, all of those locales - except New York - have significantly fewer residents than Illinois.

In the Northeast region, 3.4% of the population has been tested, according to an analysis of census records and IDPH data. That's higher than nine states and Washington, D.C.

Per capita rates

In Illinois, COVID-19 has infected 560 of every 100,000 residents. That's the ninth highest per capita infection rate in the country. New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts all have rates higher than 1,000 infected residents per 100,000, according to the national statistics.

The virus has also killed 25 of every 100,000 residents in Illinois, the 11th highest per capita rate. In New York, the virus has killed 134 of every 100,000 residents, the highest in the nation.

In Illinois' Northeast region, the virus has infected 752 of every 100,000 residents, and killed 33 of every 100,000. The per capita infection rate is higher than that of 44 states, and the per capita fatality rate is higher than that of 42 states.

CDC via AP
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