New COVID-19 cases top 2,000 for first time since February
New cases of COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 Wednesday for the first time since Feb. 26, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
New infections totaled 2,194, and nine people died from the respiratory disease, below the seven-day average of 12.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases inched upward to 2.1% after weeks in the 1% range, the IDPH said. The rate last hit 2% on Feb. 24.
Meanwhile, patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 came to 515 as of Tuesday night compared to the seven-day average of 489.
The average number of new infections steadily declined in February after highs in December and January amid a surge of the highly contagious omicron COVID-19 strain.
Infections began rising around March 9, and one factor is the emergence of the fast-spreading omicron subvariant BA.2, public health experts explained.
At a Tuesday briefing, U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted that BA.2 represents nearly three-quarters of new COVID-19 infections nationwide.
"There is no evidence that BA.2 results in more severe disease compared with the (omicron) variant, nor does it appear to be more likely to evade immune protection," she said. "The high level of immunity in the population from vaccines, boosters and previous infection will provide some level of protection against BA.2. However, we strongly encourage everyone to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines."
On Tuesday, 22,503 more COVID-19 shots were administered in Illinois. The seven-day average is 18,294.
So far, 8,661,660 people -- or 68% of the state's 12.7 million population -- have been fully vaccinated in Illinois, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's.
Of those people who are fully vaccinated, more than half have received a booster shot.
Total cases statewide stand at 3,076,628, and 33,443 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began, according to the IDPH.
Labs processed 87,140 virus tests in the last 24 hours.