CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois has once again set new records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as new infections continue to surge statewide.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 44,089 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, by far the most reported in a single day. The previous record was the 32,279 new cases reported on Wednesday. It’s the fourth time in the past eight days Illinois has set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections.

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Illinois is averaging 27,141 new cases per day over the past week, a 280% increase over the past month.

The state also set another new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 7,098 people being treated fro COVID-19 at Illinois hospitals as of Wednesday night. It’s the first time Illinois has surpassed 7,000 hospitalizations, and the fourth day in a row the state has set a new record for hospitalizations.

Illinois also reported 104 new deaths today, the first time the state has seen 100 deaths or more in a day in nearly 11 months. Illinois is now averaging 63 deaths per day over the past week, up 91% over the past month.

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The statewide average case positivity rate is up to 14.7%, higher than at any point during the fall surge of 2020, when the rate reached as high as 13.7%. The state’s infection rate peaked at 24.2% during the early days of the pandemic on April 6, 2020.

Meantime, IDPH announced two new COVID-19 antiviral pills will be available in Illinois later this month: Paxlovid from Pfizer, and Molnupiravir from Merck. Both pills will be available by prescription only for people with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, who are at high risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death.

“These new oral antivirals add new tools to our toolbox to keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “While vaccination, including boosters, is still the best way to avoid infection and prevent severe illness from COVID-19, these new antivirals given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration can help treat those who get infected and have a higher risk of becoming severely ill.”

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IDPH said it is working with pharmacies statewide to offer both antiviral drugs, which are being provided for free by the federal government. Illinois will receive a limited supply of the pills every two weeks, and will provide a list of available locations once participating pharmacies are finalized.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff