CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois reported its highest daily COVID-19 caseload in nearly a month on Friday, with 9,277 new confirmed and probable cases, as the state’s infection rate has been creeping up for the past two weeks.

The state had not recorded more than 9,000 new cases since Dec. 11, when 9,420 new cases were announced.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 126 additional deaths on Friday, the fourth day in a row with at least 100 deaths, after a slight dip in reported fatalities following the New Year’s holiday.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 1,017,322 cases, including 17,395 deaths.

As of Friday morning, the statewide seven-day average case positivity rate in Illinois remains at 8.5%, the same as one day earlier. However, the case positivity rate has been largely climbing for the past two weeks, up from 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 Thursday night, 3,777 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Illinois, including 780 patients in the ICU, and 422 on ventilators. That’s the fewest hospitalizations in more than two months, as well as the fewest people in intensive care or on ventilators since early November.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois peaked 6,175 on Nov. 20, although there are still far more COVID-19 patients in the hospital now than at the start of the fall surge in early October, when the state was averaging about 1,500 hospitalizations per day.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff