Another 190 coronavirus deaths push Illinois toll past 14,000

COVID-19’s rampage through vulnerable Illinois communities continued unabated Friday as public health officials announced 190 more people have died of the coronavirus.

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At least 3,782 people in Illinois have succumbed to the virus over the last month alone, a toll greater than the state saw during the previous four months combined.

The latest tally included a Cook County man in his 20s and two people in their 30s, among a total of 106 Chicago-area fatalities.

They brought the state’s pandemic death toll past the 14,000 milestone, now up to 14,050 lives lost. Another thousand deaths are considered to have been probable but untested viral cases.

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Only cancer and heart disease have claimed more lives in Illinois since COVID-19 gripped Illinois nine months ago.

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About 43% of the deaths — 6,954 of them — have been tied to long-term care facilities like nursing homes. Statewide, the recovery rate is 97%.

Illinois now accounts for almost 5% of all coronavirus deaths in the United States, a figure that will top 300,000 within a week.

Experts say the dizzying surge in deaths Illinois is experiencing is the lagging result of case numbers that exploded to record highs a month ago. It takes a few weeks for widespread transmission to develop into the more serious cases that require hospitalization and are more likely to end in tragedy.

Infection rates have declined slightly over the past few weeks, but many more Illinoisans are contracting the virus each day compared to the first wave. Another 9,420 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 among 104,448 tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, lowering the average statewide positivity rate to 9.4%.

Hospitalizations have gradually declined of late as well, though they remained about level from Wednesday to Thursday night, when 5,141 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with 1,081 receiving intensive care and 635 on ventilators.

Those figures are still much worse than what health care workers faced during the first wave, and but health officials worry they could rebound in the wrong direction if families don’t cancel plans for large holiday gatherings.

“The finish line is in sight,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Thursday. “Let’s keep going and let’s get everybody to the end of this marathon, and get back to normal altogether.”

The first doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine are expected to arrive in Illinois within a few days, with the first shipment of 109,000 shots earmarked for health care workers.

Almost 11.6 million coronavirus tests have been administered in the state since March; 832,951 people tested positive.

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