CHICAGO (CBS) — Public health officials reported 8,256 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Illinois on Wednesday, as well as 179 additional deaths.

It’s the fifth highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic, and the 17th time in the past month the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported more than 100 deaths in a single day. During the first wave of the pandemic in spring and summer, IDPH reported more than 100 daily deaths 25 times between between Mid-April and early June.

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Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 812,430 coronavirus cases, including 13,666 deaths.

While deaths from the virus are still trending upward, the state’s positivity rate has largely been trending downward over the past month. After the state’s seven-day average case positivity rate reached as high as 13.2% on Nov. 13, it is now down to 9.6%, the lowest it’s been since Nov. 6.

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As of Tuesday night, 5,284 COVID patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 1,176 in the ICU and 647 on ventilators.

While hospitalizations seem to have started trending downward since peaking at 6,175 on Nov. 20, there are still far more COVID-19 patients in the hospital at the start of December than at the start of October, and hospitalizations have now inched back up three days in a row.

Illinois is averaging 5,324 coronavirus hospitalizations per day over the last week, more than triple 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