CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois became the fifth state in the nation to record more than 1 million total coronavirus cases on Thursday, as public health officials reported 8,757 new confirmed and probable cases, as well as 177 deaths.

California, Texas, Florida, and New York are the only other states to report more than 1 million total cases of COVID-19 so far.

“In a pandemic that has contained far too many tragic milestones, today’s marking of one million cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Illinois deserves particular recognition,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement. “As this disease continues to wreak havoc on our nation – with the United States setting another record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a day just yesterday – it is critical that we take extra caution today and in the months ahead to reduce the spread, bring down hospitalization rates, and save lives.  Now that vaccine distribution has begun, we can see the light at the end of this difficult time – let’s do everything we can to ensure all of our neighbors are able to be there as we cross that finish line, healthy as well.  With that goal in mind, I encourage all Illinoisans to choose to receive the protections of the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn in line.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported a total of 1,008,045 coronavirus cases, including 17,272 deaths.

The 177 new deaths reported on Thursday is the 11th highest daily death toll to date in Illinois.

As of Thursday, the state’s seven-day average case positivity rate stands at 8.5%, a slight increase from one day earlier, when it was 8.4%.

The state’s infection rate has been largely climbing for the past two weeks, after falling as low as 6.8% on Dec. 26. During the second surge of the virus this fall, the state’s case positivity rate peaked at 13.2% in mid-November and had been steadily declining for more than a month before the recent rise started at the end of December.

As of Wednesday night, 3,921 coronavirus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 783 in the ICU and 450 on ventilators. COVID hospitalizations in Illinois have now been below 4,000 for seven days in a row. Hospitalizations haven’t been that low since early November, though they’re still more than double the average of 1,500 per day at the start of October, when the fall surge began.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff