CHICAGO (CBS) — Public health officials reported more than 7,500 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois on Friday, the lowest daily case count in more than three weeks, in no small part due to a significant slowdown in testing on Thanksgiving Day.

Nonetheless, Illinois still surpassed two grim milestones, with more than 700,000 cases and 12,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 7,574 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, as well as 66 additional deaths.

Illinois hadn’t reported fewer than 8,000 cases since Nov. 4. However, Illinois also saw a steep decline in tests over the past 24 hours, with only 77,130 tests processed, the fewest reported in one day in nearly three weeks.

Illinois is averaging 10,095 new cases per day over the past week, down from an average of 11,777 daily cases the previous week, but nearly five times higher than the 2,052 cases per day during the first seven days of October.

The state’s seven-day average case positivity rate now stands at 10.1%, marking the ninth time in the past 16 days the rate has gone down. That metric is down from as high as 13.2% on Nov. 13, but still nearly triple the 3.5% average case positivity rate at the start of October.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 705,063 cases, including 12,029 deaths.

As of Thursday night, 5,829 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Illinois, the first time there have been fewer than 6,000 hospitalizations statewide since Nov. 17. COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state have now gone down four days in a row.

However, hospitalizations from the virus are still far higher than early October, and well above the peak of the first surge of the pandemic, when hosptializations topped out at 5,037 patients on April 28.

Illinois is averaging 6,078 coronavirus hospitalizations per day over the last week, more than four times the average of about 1,500 per day at the start of October. During the first wave of the pandemic, the state peaked at an average of 4,822 hospitalizations per day in early May.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff