Chicago ‘making real progress’ as state reports 1,466 new COVID-19 cases

Public health officials on Tuesday announced 1,466 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois as the state trends in the right direction following a mid-summer resurgence.

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The new cases were confirmed among 39,031 tests, keeping the state’s seven-day testing positivity rate at 3.6%.

That key indicator of transmission first fell to 3.6% Monday — as low as it’s been since late July — after hitting 4.5% to close out August.

Illinois has logged an average of 1,694 new coronavirus cases per day over the last week, down from about 2,166 new cases per day over the first eight days of September. While this month has also seen some of the state’s highest-ever daily caseloads, they came along with high testing numbers.

As a result, positivity rates have dropped in most of the state’s 11 regions. Chicago is at 5.2% positivity, suburban Cook County is at 5.8% and all three other metro area regions are below 7%.

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Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city is “making real progress in neighborhoods on COVID.”

“We have seen, broadly, quite good mask adherence in Chicago. There is always room for improvement, but compared to what we’re seeing in other parts of the country and even the state, I think that has remained reasonably good,” she said.

Arwady cautioned some of the city’s recent improvements could be “a little bit driven” by a decrease in testing over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

“We’re definitely down compared to where we were. We’ve got to get that percent positivity down, though,” she said.

But the Illinois Department of Public Health also announced the virus killed 20 additional residents statewide, and has now claimed 8,332 lives statewide since March.

More than 4.8 million coronavirus tests have been administered in Illinois, and at least 264,210 people have been infected. The vast majority have suffered mild symptoms, with a recovery rate of 96%.

The state’s hospitals are well within capacity, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team has warned that admissions have ticked up slightly over the summer. As of Monday night, 1,584 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 373 in intensive care units and 144 on ventilators.

Chicago also updated its travel quarantine order list of hot spot states, which now includes 16 states, down from 21 last week: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah.

Residents and visitors could face fines if they don’t self-isolate for two weeks after arriving from those states, but Arwady said it’s more about education. So far, only warning letters have been issued to COVID-19 scofflaws.

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