Illinois’ COVID-19 infection rate dips to lowest level since March

Illinois’ COVID-19 infection rate reported on Saturday was the lowest it’s been in six weeks, as the state plans to continue easing restrictions.

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The statewide seven-day positivity rate, which experts use to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading, dipped to 2.9% — the lowest it’s been since March 26.

State health officials reported 1,729 new coronavirus cases and an additional 22 virus-related deaths, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 22,193 people.

Nine of those deaths were reported in the Chicago area.

Saturday’s new cases were detected among the 77,312 tests processed in the last day by the Illinois Department of Public Health and showed a single day positivity rate of 2.2%.

That’s a promising sign as Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to fully reopen the state next month.

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Pritzker announced his plan Thursday to lift COVID-19 restrictions in Illinois on June 11, barring another surge of infections. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been more conservative with her prediction. She previously said she plans for Chicago to be fully back open by July 4.

While the forecasts give Illinoisans a light at the end of the tunnel after 14 months of living with coronavirus restrictions, state health officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of getting vaccinated for people who haven’t already.

Illinois doled out 107,688 vaccinations Friday — the most inoculations in a single day since April 29. The state has started to see a decline in demand for the vaccine, state health officials said.

The state now has a seven-day rolling average of 68,455 vaccinations administered daily. That’s down from a month ago when the state was averaging 112,680 per day during the week of April 1-7.

In total, 9,827,646 vaccine doses have been administered since mid-December. Of that, more than 4.4 million people in Illinois — or about 34.6% of the state’s population — are fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

All Illinois and Chicago residents 16 or older are eligible for the vaccine, which remains free and readily available on a walk-up basis at government-run mass vaccination sites, as well as many Walgreens, Walmart and CVS pharmacies.

For help finding an appointment in Chicago, visit or call (312) 746-4835.

For suburban Cook County sites, visit or call (833) 308-1988.

To find providers elsewhere, visit or call (833) 621-1284.

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