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WATCH ABOVE: Governor JB Pritzker announces new “Tier 3” COVID-19 restrictions in Illinois Tuesday

CHICAGO — After rising steadily for weeks, COVID-19 test positivity rates in most Illinois regions leveled off for at least a day Tuesday as the state approaches 600,000 total reported cases to date.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 12,601 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Tuesday, as well as 97 additional coronavirus-related deaths.

When measured over a 7-day period, the state is now averaging about 12,380 new reported COVID-19 cases and 84 related deaths a day as a second wave of the disease continues across the country.

After spiking from around 2,000 in early October to more than 12,000 on November 13, the 7-day case average has remained near that level for the past few days. Illinois has reported 597,849 COVID-19 cases to date and will likely pass the 600,000 mark on Wednesday.

Governor JB Pritzker announced stricter COVID-19 mitigation measures for the entire State of Illinois Wednesday, citing a continuing rise an in cases.

“As fall approached we began to see an upsurge, and now we are seeing a Covid storm that has set us on a course to a new wave of the virus that we all hoped wouldn’t come,” Pritzker said.

With 94,205 tests reported over the past 24 hours, the state is now averaging 97,805 tests over that same 7-day period and has been averaging more than 95,000 daily tests since November 14. The state is deeming test results from rapid saliva-based antigen tests as “probable” cases following CDC guidelines.

The statewide case positivity rate from November 10-16, which reflects the total number of new confirmed cases compared to total tests over that period, remained at 12.5% for a second day Tuesday.

This mirrors a wider trend in the vast majority of regions established in the Restore Illinois plan, which reported 7-day test positivity rates which remained the same or declined for at least a day on Tuesday after rising for weeks.

The South Suburban Region including Will and Kankakee counties is now reporting the highest 7-day test positivity rate in the state, coming in at 20.3% as of November 14.

Hospital beds in this region are also below the state’s warning levels, with a 3-day average of 12% of “surge” capacity and 16% ICU capacity coming in below the state’s limit of 20% for each. There were 25 intensive care beds available in the region as of Monday night.

Officials continue to sound the alarm about rising COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois, with the IDPH reporting 5,887 patients hospitalized with the disease as of Monday night including 1,158 in intensive care and 545 on ventilators.

The pandemic is putting a crunch on hospital staffing across Illinois and the U.S., forcing many hospital systems to push back elective surgeries.

“This is the story that we’re seeing in regional hospital systems all across the state,” Pritzker said Monday. “We need everyone to pitch in so we can support our heroes who are on the front lines.”

Since mid-October, North Shore University Health System has seen a nearly ten-fold increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.