WATCH ABOVE: Governor JB Pritzker and health officials give a regular update on COVID-19 in Illinois Monday
CHICAGO — Illinois health officials reported 8,691 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 as well as 90 additional deaths Monday, as the state continues to see more coronavirus-related deaths on average than during the first wave of the virus in the spring.
According to the CDC, Texas is the only U.S. state that has reported more COVID-19 deaths than Illinois over the past week, while the state ranks behind South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska,
Iowa and New Mexico when population is taken into account.
While this could be due in part to a spike in the number of deaths reported by the state on December 2, which officials attributed to a delay in reporting caused by the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Illinois would still rank second in the U.S. if all 238 deaths reported on that day were left out.
State health officials also reported 208 additional COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, the second biggest single-day total reported to date, which the IDPH did not immediately attribute to any delays in the data.
Viewed over a longer 14-day period which helps account for fluctuations in the data, Illinois is averaging about 128 COVID-19 deaths a day as of Monday, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
This comes as the Illinois Department of Public Health says 10.3% of tests reported from November 3 – December 6 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 when compared to the total number of tests. This case positivity rate has remained relatively flat since it stopped declining on November 27.
The average number of reported COVID-19 tests has continued to rise since falling immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday, with 77,569 tests reported Monday bringing the 7-day average to about 97,000. Officials continue to report results from rapid saliva-based tests as “probable” cases, which account for about 4% of tests reported Monday.
While Illinois has not seen a spike in new COVID-19 cases that experts warned could come after people traveled for Thanksgiving, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said it’s too early to tell if the state avoided a surge since the holiday weekend ended just over a week ago.
“It’s too early to say, we will know more at the end of this week – that will be two weeks about – and then that third week we can see the extent of the rise,” Ezike said.
After declining since late November, coronavirus hospitalizations rose slightly Monday with the IDPH reporting 5,190 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 including 1,123 in intensive care and 648 on ventilators.
All of Illinois remains under Tier 3 coronavirus mitigation measures as of Monday, which Governor JB Pritzker has said will remain in place even if a region meets the requirements for a lessening of restrictions in the coming weeks, as officials fear a post-Thanksgiving surge in the virus.
While many regions report COVID-19 positivity rates near the 12% level needed to qualify for Tier 2 mitigations, no region has yet met the state’s original criteria for moving to that level.
The IDPH said Monday it’s prepared to launch its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan once Pfizer’s vaccine gets emergency use approval from the FDA. Illinois could receive an initial 109,000 doses of the vaccine as early as next week. Front-line health care workers and long-term care residents will be the first to be inoculated.
Top government officials warned Americans anew to wear masks, practice social distancing and follow other basic measures Sunday as new cases per day have rocketed to an all-time high of more than 190,000 on average.