CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois has surpassed 500,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, after setting another new record for daily cases on Tuesday, as well as reaching a new high for testing, with more than 100,000 virus tests in the past day.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a record 12,623 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, topping the old daily case record of 12,438 reported on Saturday. Illinois has now reported at least 10,000 new cases for five days in a row.
“We all want this to be over, but we need to gird ourselves for winter, because it’s not over yet. Neither has winter come, nor is the pandemic over. We have potentially months of the fight ahead of us,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday afternoon.
IDPH also reported 79 additional deaths, the second most reported in one day since mid-June. Three of the most recent deaths were reported at Illinois Veterans’ Home LaSalle (IVHL), which has had 68 residents and 70 employees contract the virus since the start of the pandemic, including six residents who have died.
“IVHL has implemented testing, isolation, and sterilization protocols at the facility and is following all public health guidance in its continued response,” IDPH said in a news release.
COVID-19 testing also set a new record on Tuesday, with 101,955 new tests reported in the past 24 hours, the first time Illinois reported more than 100,000 tests in a day.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 511,183 coronavirus cases, including 10,289 deaths.
The statewide seven-day average case positivity rate now stands at 12%, three times higher than it was one month ago.
As of Monday night, 4,742 coronavirus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 911 patients in the ICU and 399 on ventilators. That’s the most COVID patients in the hospital since early May, the most virus patients in the ICU since late May, and the most COVID patients on ventilators since early June.
“These numbers are awful. Positivity rate is going the wrong direction,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said Illinois is now averaging more than 4,200 coronavirus patients in the hospital per day over the past week, up from an average of about 1,500 per day at the start of October. The state peaked at an average of 4,822 hospitalizations per day in early May.
“In short, we’re now just hundreds short of our worst COVID hospitalization numbers last spring, after adding more than 2,000 to that number and that average since just October the 1st,” Pritzker said.
The governor said the recent surge in hospitalizations has been particularly bad outside of Chicago and the collar counties.
Pritzker said Region 1 in northwest Illinois, daily hospitalizations have nearly doubled from the peak in late May. In Region 5 in Southern Illinois, hospitalizations have more than doubled since their peak in the spring. For Region 2 in north-central Illinois, hospitalizations are 2.5 times the rate of their earlier peak in the spring. Region 3, in west-central Illinois, has seen its hospitalizations increase 3.2 times over their spring peak. Hospitalizations are up 3.5 times in Region 6 in east-central Illinois compared to their spring peak.
Meantime, the Metro East region and Will and Kankakee counties are just above their spring peak, while Lake, McHenry, DuPage, and Kane Counties are just below their spring peak, and Chicago and suburban Cook County are at about half their hospitalization peak from the spring.
“It’s critical to remember that nothing makes a bigger difference during this pandemic than when a community decides to protect your own; by wearing masks, by avoiding gatherings, by temporarily closing high-risk high-exposure businesses until we get to a place where it’s safer to open again,” Pritzker said.
The governor said the good news this week has been the announcement from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, which announced Monday that human trials suggest itsis 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in people not known to have had the virus already. The pharmaceutical giant said it would be applying for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA as soon as final data meets safety milestones, which it expects to happen in the third week of November.
“That’s potentially a very big deal. It proves not only that an effective vaccine might be on the horizon, but also that the multiple vaccines that use this new spike protein technology – attacking the part of the virus that helps it latch onto human cells – are on the right track,” Pritzker said.
The governor said Illinois is prepared to build out the appropriate logistics chain necessary to distribute a vaccine across Illinois once one is approved for use.
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