Illinois has now recorded more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic first arrived in the state.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Thursday that there had been 1,834 new confirmed cases of the disease over the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day total since Saturday. That brought the statewide total number of cases to 200,427, or nearly 1.6 percent of the state’s population.
The department also reported 24 additional virus-related deaths since Wednesday, bringing that statewide total to 7,696.
The rising number of cases comes at a time when K-12 schools, colleges and universities are struggling to decide whether to resume in-person classes, continue remote learning or some combination of both.
“I'm deeply concerned about the direction that the numbers are going across the state of Illinois,” Gov. JB Pritzker said during a public appearance in Bloomington on Thursday. “I'm also deeply concerned to make sure that we do as much as we can to provide the proper education for our kids. We all know from all the studies that in-person learning is better than e-learning in terms of the retention by kids for what they're learning about. And so, you know, I'm hopeful that schools across the state have the ability to offer in-person learning as well as e-learning. But I understand when schools have chosen to go all e-learning because the challenge is great.”
As of Wednesday night, 1,628 COVID-19 patients in Illinois were hospitalized. Of those, 383 patients were in intensive care units, and 127 of those patients were on ventilators. That’s the highest hospitalization number since July 1, and the highest ICU number since June 30.
The 1,834 new cases confirmed Thursday were from 46,006 tests performed, which is a one-day positivity rate of just under 4 percent. That was the sixth largest number of tests performed in a single day. IDPH said the preliminary seven-day rolling average positivity rate for the period of Aug. 6 to Aug. 12 was 4 percent, a tenth of a percentage point below the previous day.
As of Monday, according to IDPH, the highest positivity rate was in the Metro East area, which includes East St. Louis, where the seven-day average was 7.9 percent. But in the region that includes Peoria and Bloomington, where the positivity rate was 5.5 percent, the rate has been climbing for seven of the past 10 days, putting that area at risk of having social and economic restrictions reimposed by the state.
If a region’s positivity rate is 8 percent or higher for three straight days, the state would take action to mitigate spread.
In other regions, positivity rates ranged from 2.6 percent in eastern Illinois to 7.5 percent in southern Illinois.
“Every region is, frankly, going…it's going the wrong direction,” Pritzker said Thursday. “We're trying to ameliorate that.”
He repeated the message that he has been delivering almost daily – Illinoisans should wear face coverings when they are out in public, especially in places where they can’t maintain a safe six-foot distance from other people.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that the surge in unemployment caused by the pandemic has been declining, both in Illinois and nationwide.
For the week that ended Aug. 8, first-time unemployment claims fell below 1 million nationally for the first time since March. In Illinois, 22,387 workers filed initial claims, which was 2,887 fewer than the week before.
There were 627,271 Illinois workers receiving continuing unemployment benefits during the week that ended Aug. 8, which was 3,761 fewer than the prior week.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.