Illinois records 30,386 new COVID-19 cases, most ever in one day

Illinois set another grim record Thursday with the diagnosis of 30,386 new cases of COVID-19, the most ever in a single day for the state.

Almost 15.5% of all tests recorded Thursday yielded a new case of the disease, Illinois Department of Public Health records show.

Before Thursday, the record for new cases in a single day was 21,131 - just last week.

State health officials also reported 5,689 COVID-19 patients were being treated in hospitals throughout Illinois, up 218 patients from the day before. That's a 33% increase from just one week ago.

And the state's seven-day case positivity rate is now at 10.2%.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said it's almost exclusively the unvaccinated who are being hospitalized with COVID-19.

"Most of the people right now in Chicago in the hospital with COVID have the omicron variant and remain unvaccinated," she said during an online forum Thursday. "The reason I'm not completely freaking out, honestly, about these COVID numbers and what they're doing to our hospital capacity is because ... I am very reassured that the vaccine continues to protect really well."

The latest seven-day positivity rate is the first time it's been in double digits in more than a year. Case positivity is the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of tests, and a seven-day average is used to account for any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.

Of those hospitalized in Illinois, 1,010 are in intensive care, according to IDPH figures. That's just 16.5% more than a week ago.

IDPH officials also reported 87 more COVID-19 deaths Thursday.

That brings the state's death toll from the virus to 27,821, while 2,149,548 infections have been diagnosed since the outset of the pandemic.

Arwady addressed the new COVID-19 isolation guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reduce the time frame from 10 days to five.

"Isolation ends five days after onset of symptoms," she said. "The incubation period nowadays is shorter. The chances of spreading COVID are down to almost nothing after five days."

But she noted that people who are symptomatic after five days should continue to isolate.

Arwady added that unvaccinated people or those who haven't gotten a booster dose and who get infected with COVID-19 shouldn't wait to get vaccinated or boosted once they are healthy. The waiting period in the past was recommended because of scarcity of shots, she said.

Because research has shown natural immunity to COVID-19 wanes significantly in just a few months after infection, health officials are urging anyone who needs to be vaccinated or boosted to do so.

IDPH officials Thursday reported an additional 70,096 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered throughout the state.

Vaccine providers in Illinois have now administered 19,176,277 doses since they became available in December 2020.

The CDC is reporting 64.3% of the state's 12.7 million residents are now fully vaccinated.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced the state had won an arbitration case with the Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice regarding the vaccine mandate for the staffs of those agencies.

Unvaccinated employees at those agencies will now be required to get their first shots by Jan. 31 unless approved for a religious or medical exemption. It's unclear how many unvaccinated employees remain at each agency, but the mandate affects roughly 10,000 state employees at 46 adult correctional centers and five juvenile facilities.

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