CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois has surpassed 9,000 deaths from COVID-19, as public health officials reported 2,851 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as well as 29 additional deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported a total of 324,743 cases, including 9,026 deaths.

“More than 9,000 Illinoisans — our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, family, friends, and neighbors — have had their lives cut short by COVID-19, leaving tens of thousands more to grieve loved ones lost too soon,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement. “As we pause today to mourn these individual and collective losses, may we find strength in the tools we have to protect our communities: wearing a mask, watching our distance, and respecting public health and each other.  My heart breaks for all those who have lost a loved one in this battle we never asked to fight – may their memories be for a blessing.”

The 2,851 new cases announced Tuesday make up 5.1% of the 55,993 new tests reported by IDPH. The statewide seven-day average positivity rate now stands at 4.5%, the highest it’s been since hitting that mark on Sept. 2.

Illinois’ seven-day average positivity rate has now been above 4% for four days in a row, after staying below 4% for more than a month.

However, that’s still below the 5% threshold the World Health Organization recommends states be below in order to reopen their economies. It’s also far below the peak of about 18% Illinois saw in mid-May.

As of Monday night, 1,848 virus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 406 in intensive care and 160 on ventilators. COVID hospitalizations also have been rising in Illinois in recent weeks. Over the first 12 days of October, Illinois has averaged 1,707 patients hospitalized per day, compared to 1,552 per day for the first 12 days of September.

“After 9 months of battling this virus and hearing the updates each day, many of us forget that the hospitalizations and deaths are more than just numbers,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “They are our family, friends, and loved ones who have been directly impacted by COVID-19, which continues to spread.  You can help slow the spread and reduce the number of people who become sick with COVID-19 by wearing your mask, washing your hands, and watching your distance.”

So far, the vast majority of coronavirus patients in Illinois have recovered from the disease, with a 96% 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.