CHICAGO (CBS) — A disturbing uptick in new COVID-19 cases in Illinois continued on Thursday, as Illinois public health officials reported the highest daily case count and highest average infection rate since early February.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,526 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Thursday, as well as 25 more deaths. It’s the most daily cases reported in Illinois since Feb. 5.

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Illinois is averaging 2,602 new cases per day over the past week, up 32% from one week ago. While deaths connected to COVID-19 have been relatively flat for the past couple weeks, deaths lag behind new infections.

Case increases have been even sharper in the city of Chicago, which is averaging 519 new cases per day over the past week, up 41% from one week ago.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 1,248,111 cases of COVID-19, including 21,326 deaths.

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The state’s seven-day average case positivity rate is up to 3.5%, the highest it’s been since Feb. 3. That rate was 2.7% one week ago, and reached a pandemic-low of 2.1% nearly three weeks ago on March 13.

As of Wednesday night, a total of 1,411 coronavirus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 304 in the ICU and 121 on ventilators. Illinois is averaging 1,364 coronavirus hospitalizations per day over the past week, up 14% from a week ago.

Meantime, a total of 7,544,135 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to Illinois since December, and 5,918,422 shots have been administered statewide. Illinois is now averaging 109,073 does administered per day over the past week, the second-highest average to date.

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A total of 2,204,598 people in Illinois have been fully vaccinated, or 17.3% of the population.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff