CHICAGO (CBS) — The latest surge of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois appears to be slowing, as new statewide infections have dropped for the second week in a row, and hospitalizations also are beginning to decline.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 25,956 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and the state is now averaging 3,708 new cases per day over the past week, a 14% drop from two weeks ago.

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The state’s average infection rate has been dropping for a month, with the average case positivity rate down to 4.1%. During the most recent surge of the pandemic, that infection rate peaked at 5.3% in mid-August.

Statewide coronavirus hospitalizations have started to drop off slightly, after climbing pretty steadily since mid-July. Illinois is averaging 2,211 hospitalizations per day over the past week, down 4% from one week ago, but still up 28% from one month ago.

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Southern Illinois, in particular, is struggling with hospitalizations. All available ICU beds in the Southern Illinois region have been filled for five days in a row.

Deaths from COVID-19 statewide are still on the rise. Illinois is averaging 41 COVID deaths per day over the past week, up 60% from two weeks ago.

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Meantime, the state’s vaccination rate has remained largely flat during the latest surge, with Illinois averaging 20,292 doses administered per day over the past week. That average has fluctuated between about 16,000 and 25,000 doses per day since mid-July, except for an occasional spike.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff