CHICAGO (CBS) — Public health officials announced Wednesday that another 30 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, and 1,759 new virus cases have been confirmed in the past day, while the state also reported the second-most tests performed since the start of the pandemic.
Illinois has now seen 15 days in a row with more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said there have been a total of 186,471 confirmed virus cases and 7,573 deaths statewide since the start of the pandemic.
The newest cases came as Illinois labs reported a total of 46,668 virus tests in the past 24 hours, the second most so far during the coronavirus outbreak, for a one-day positivity rate of 3.8%. The statewide average positive test rate for the past week stands at 3.9%, up from 3.2% two weeks ago, and up from 2.5% in early July.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the state still needs more testing, and officials are working to increase the number of tests every week.
“But we also need more personal responsibility, more community responsibility,” she said, pointing to large public gatherings, where people have ignored the state’s face covering mandate and social distancing guidelines, such as the White Trash Bash on Saturday in Peoria, where about 200 boats gathered against the advice of public health experts and park district officials.
“Events like the White Trash Bash, where hundreds of people gathered, are ways that the virus can spread if we’re not masking and distancing. It can be the cause for increase of cases, and someone who’s at the event could spread it to someone else, who could spread it to someone else, and so on,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the type of event is. It could be big events in the community, sports tournaments, large gatherings for protests, family reunions. No one should be gathering in large groups where you can’t keep six feet of distance and can’t wear a mask.”
Ezike said requiring people to wear a mask in public is not about taking away their freedoms, but about stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is an invisible threat with very visible consequences. You’re tired of hearing it. I’m tired of talking about it. Believe me, I want this over as much as everyone else, but this virus is not tired. In fact, it’s trying to gain momentum, It’s cunning and it’s elusive,” she said.
Ezike also said people should not get complacent about protecting themselves when gathering with their families.
“I know we love our family, but just because it’s family, don’t think that it’s necessarily okay to get together without masking and distancing. If your family members are not in your immediate household, and they’re not in your established bubble, please understand that you are exposing yourself and them to the additional risk of virus spread,” she said. “We do have too many unfortunate examples, also from the contact tracing, of extended family gatherings turning into dozens of positive cases. Unfortunately people even gathering for funerals, and then going on to catch COVID.”
She also said waitstaff at restaurants need to wear masks, and customers should do so as well when they’re not eating or drinking to protect restaurant staff and fellow patrons.
As of Tuesday night, 1,552 people in Illinois were hospitalized for COVID-19, including 368 people in intensive care units, and 129 on ventilators. It’s the first time since July 8 that Illinois has reported more than 1,500 virus hospitalizations, although those totals have hovered between 1,300 and 1,490 for more than a month.
So far, the vast majority of COVID-19 patients have recovered from the disease, with a 95% statewide recovery rate as of Monday. The state’s recovery rate calculates the number of people who have tested positive for the virus, and have survived at least 42 days after their test.