CHICAGO (CBS) — For the fourth time this month, Illinois has set a new record for daily COVID-19 cases in 2021, as the state also surpassed 2 million total cases overall since the start of the pandemic.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 16,581 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along 66 additional deaths. That’s the most new cases in a single day so far this year, and the fourth time in December that the state has set a new daily case record.

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Wednesday’s total is the second most confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in a single day during the entire pandemic. According to IDPH, the record is 17,608 confirmed and probable cases reported on Nov. 5, 2020.

Illinois is averaging 11,561 new cases per day over the past week, a 160% increase in the average daily caseload since the start of December. Average daily deaths are up 133% since the start of December in Illinois.

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The spike comes as the new Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, accounting for 73% of all new infections last week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, testing for COVID-19 also has surged this month, so the state’s average positivity rate still remains lower than the peaks of the first two waves of the pandemic in 2020. The state’s average case positivity rate — the percentage of new cases among total tests for the virus — stands at 6%, after reaching as high as 13.2% during the fall surge in 2020, and as high as 20% during the first wave of the pandemic in May 2020.

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Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported 2,002,360 total cases of COVID-19, including 27,357 deaths.

As of Tuesday night, a total of 4,178 people in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19, a 65% increase since the start of the month.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff