Illinois’ coronavirus positivity rate remains at a two-month high

Illinois’ coronavirus positivity rate remains at a two-month
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oIllinois’ coronavirus positivity rate remained at a two-month high Sunday, continuing a troubling upward trend that could lead officials to tighten restrictions on businesses once again.

State health officials reported 2,449 new and probable COVID-19 cases that were detected among 64,116 tests processed in the last day. That kept the state’s seven-day positivity rate for a second day at 3.8%, the highest it’s been since Feb. 2.

In March, that figure, which experts use to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading, dropped to the lowest since summer. In fact, the state’s seven-day positivity rate remained below 3% for nearly six weeks, from Feb. 15 to March 27.

Over the last week, though, that figure has been on a gradual rise.

While the state’s overall positivity rate remains well below the peak levels seen last fall, suburban Cook County and Chicago’s test positivity rates have climbed steadily and are creeping toward the 8% benchmark that could result in a scaling back of recently expanded indoor business capacity limits.

The Chicagoland area’s databases aren’t updated on weekends. But as of Friday, both suburban Cook County and Chicago had a test positivity rate of 5%. For Chicago, that’s up more than a full percentage point from the previous week, when that figure checked in at 3.7% March 26.

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Officials warned Saturday that tighter coronavirus restrictions could soon be in store for businesses in suburban Cook County if this upward trend continues.

“We may very well have to clamp down within a matter of days,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, who partially blamed the uptick on COVID fatigue. “I’m not promising that one way or the other. We need to evaluate exactly what kinds of activities and movements do we think are really pushing this surge.”

Meanwhile, the state has also seen an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations over the last few weeks. As of Saturday night, 1,491 beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients. Of those, 336 were in intensive care units and 143 were on ventilators, officials said.

Officials on Sunday also reported 14 deaths linked to COVID-19, bringing the state’s total pandemic death toll to 21,373.

In total, Illinois has administered 6,290,822 vaccine doses since December, including 102,215 on Saturday, officials said. The state’s doled out an overage of 108,914 shots per day over the last week.

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