Illinois' COVID-19 positivity rate much lower than some neighbors'
Cases of COVID-19 rose by 883 Monday as deaths from the respiratory disease increased by six, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
The state hit a significant statistic with 2,012,994 tests performed for the virus with a positivity rate of 3% based on a seven-day average. For the day, 2.9% of tests had positive results.
"Illinois continues to aggressively expand our testing capacity, and we've reached another milestone," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a Twitter post. "We now average more than 30,000 tests a day -- a 50% increase in just a month."
Statewide, cases reached 154,799, and 7,193 Illinoisans have died from COVID-19 to date.
The data comes two weeks after Illinois entered Phase 4 of a five-phase reopening plan. Phase 4 began June 26 and loosened many stay-at-home rules by allowing people to gather in groups of 50 or fewer, dine inside restaurants, and go to movie theaters operating under state restrictions.
The daily increase in cases surpassed 1,000 last week for the first time since June 5.
Illinois' positivity rate has crept up from early July, when it hovered at 2.6%, but compares favorably with other Midwestern averages. Iowa is at 8.9%, Indiana is at 8.4% and Wisconsin is at 6.9%. Michigan's average also is 2.6%, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine's Coronavirus Resource Center.
The highest positivity rate occurs in Arizona, with 26.6% and 2,537 daily cases of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins reported. In Mississippi, the positivity rate is 21.5%, and the new case count is 868; South Carolina is at 19.1% with 1,949 more cases, and Florida is at 18.6% and is experiencing a record-breaking surge -- 15,300 daily cases on Sunday.
The sharp contrast from state to state reflects the lack of a national policy addressing COVID-19, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital physician Jeffrey Huml said.
Cases of the disease are decreasing in Europe because "their mandates came from the equivalent of the federal government and are based on science, not politicized," said Huml, medical director of critical care.
In Illinois' Phase 3, which allowed groups of 10 or fewer, outdoor dining and many retail shops to reopen with capacity limits as of May 29, the average daily case number was 834.
In Phase 4, that average as of Monday is 853.6.
Increased testing is one reason for higher case counts, but it's also because people are not wearing face masks and are entering crowded, confined areas, Huml noted.
"I understand people want to get out and live their lives, but you have to live with the situational awareness that we're in the midst of a pandemic and deadly virus," he said.
The six Illinoisans who died is the lowest number since March when fatalities were in the single digits. Monday results can be outliers as some health facilities and coroner's departments do not issue reports over the weekend.
Hospitalizations, a key indicator of how a state is handling the pandemic, stood at 1,362 as of Sunday, less than the seven-day average of 1,421.
Since COVID-19 emerged, "we've had to learn on the fly how to treat this virus," and that intense troubleshooting has resulted in multiple ways to attack it, Huml said. Those include using less invasive ways of providing oxygen than intubation or using steroids to alleviate symptoms.