COVID-19 cases continue to decrease; UIC to test vaccine

The number of cases of COVID-19 rose by 473 Monday, continuing a downward trend, while deaths increased by 19, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced.

That's the lowest daily case count since March 30, when 461 daily cases were reported, and below the 14-day average of 842.

The state's total infections stand at 133,016, and fatalities from the respiratory disease are at 6,326.

Testing results showed a positivity rate of 3%, based on the seven-day average.

The news came as the University of Illinois at Chicago announced it will be testing a vaccine for COVID-19 starting July 9.

UIC scientists will enroll 1,000 individuals in the clinical trial at first but hope to expand to 30,000.

Researchers will screen participants to ensure that 40% or more are 65 years or older, lead investigator and physician Richard Novak said.

“We want to see if the vaccine will prevent people from getting COVID-19 or if it will prevent people from experiencing severe illness if they do get the disease,” Novak said in a statement.

The vaccine was developed by biotech company Moderna Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the state's recovery rate increased from 92% last week to 93%.

Elmhurst Hospital physician Phillip Cozzi, a pulmonary medicine specialist, said “it's not a cause for celebration but a suggestion that, perhaps, we are starting to turn in the right direction.”

The trend of improvement is caused by multiple factors, Cozzi said.

“You could potentially be testing a greater number of patients who are less ill and have less likelihood of dying.

“But also, I believe hospitals and medical systems have made significant improvements in the supportive care as well as disease-specific management of COVID-19.”

An example includes being proactive by offering medication to prevent blood clots traveling from the legs to the lungs to patients at heightened risk, Cozzi explained. COVID-19 has been linked with causing blood clots.

More than 85% of people dying from COVID-19 are age 60 and older, and the largest group — 45% — to succumb to the virus are seniors age 80 and older.

The 19 deaths equal the number reported Sunday. But numbers typically rebound during the week. For example, the Monday, June 1, total of 23 deaths was followed by 112 deaths reported the following day.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 continued on a declining trend with 1,961 patients being treated in a hospital as of Sunday, compared to 3,238 June 1.

The IDPH also updated probable cases of the disease totaling 861 since the pandemic began and listed probable deaths at 181 people.

Probable cases typically lack a confirmed laboratory test but may meet “clinical criteria and epidemiologic evidence,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

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