State's COVID-19 infection rate continues to decline; 87 more dead
For the first time since the Illinois Department of Public Health began reporting COVID-19 testing figures, the state's seven-day infection rate average is below 10%.
That was aided by Thursday's announcement that only 2,268 of the 29,307 tests returned in the past 24 hours were positive for a coronavirus infection.
This batch of tests was the most reported in one day by the state.
Over the past seven days, the state has averaged 22,855 tests results and 2,107 new infections daily, for an average positivity rate of 9.2% for the week. Last Thursday, the average infection rate was at 12.8% for the previous seven-day period.
The percent positive indicates not only the scale of the disease but the amount of testing being done, both important factors in assessing the spread of the disease.
In the state's Northeast region, which contains Chicago and the suburbs, IDPH is reporting an infection rate of 16.8%.
IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike praised the vigilance of the state's residents in complying with safety guidelines that helped reduce the infection rate over the past several months. But she also urged continued care.
"We must use what we do know to help protect ourselves and stop additional spread," she said. "Social distancing works. We know that wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the virus, and washing your hands can prevent not just coronavirus but so many additional viruses and pathogens, as well. Let's take it slowly as we go into (the next phase) as we continue to learn about the virus."
Illinois recorded 87 new deaths Thursday from the virus, bringing the state's death toll to 4,607. The state's total case count now stands at 102,686.
The state did experience an uptick in COVID-related hospitalizations with nearly 200 new admissions between Tuesday and Wednesday, including 83 more COVID patients in intensive care than the day before, according to IDPH records. There are now 4,107 people hospitalized with the virus, 1,088 of whom are in ICU beds.
Despite that increase, all four of the state's recovery regions are on pace to move to a less restrictive phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's economic reopening plan by the end of the month.
The infection rate needs to remain below 20% for the region to move to the next phase. Other metrics like hospital bed and ventilator availability are also being met as well as the region's hospitalization rate, according to state reports.