State's COVID-19 infection rate continues decline
Illinois is averaging less than a 4% positive-test rate for COVID-19 this week after state health officials announced only 595 new infections Friday.
That puts the state's seven-day rolling average infection rate at 3.6%, the lowest level for that indicator since the outbreak began, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
A month ago, the seven-day rolling average showed 13.6% of all tests coming back positive for the disease daily.
Only 2.4% of the 24,774 tests returned Friday were positive for an infection, another statistical low for the state.
Meanwhile, state health officials also reported another 77 residents have died from COVID-19, bringing the state's death toll to 6,260.
IDPH officials also reported a new low for COVID-19 hospitalizations with only 6.3% of the state's hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.
All parts of the state are on pace to move to an even less restrictive phase of the state's reopening plan where more businesses will be allowed to open and gatherings of 50 or fewer will be allowed.
However, state officials canceled the Illinois State Fair and Du Quoin State Fair Friday, citing the "risk posed by COVID-19, which still has no cure or widespread available treatment.
The state fair was canceled for four years during World War II, as well as 1862 during the Civil War and was replaced by the famed 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
In lieu of the fair, a virtual "Junior Livestock Expo" will take place in September for exhibitors between the ages of 8 and 21.
"These kids work all year to prepare for their livestock and projects, so we are determined to still provide them an event that showcases their hard work and perseverance through a very difficult year," said Jerry Costello II, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Also Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a series of guidelines for those expanding their social circles after enduring stay-at-home orders for the past three months.
The guidelines recommend avoiding indoor spaces with new people as well as maintaining social distance and wearing face coverings when possible.
Anyone hosting an outdoor cookout or gathering should keep hand sanitizer available, have people bring their own food, and avoid close contact -- including elbow bumps to discourage "close contact."