Illinois sees biggest spike in reported COVID-19 deaths to date after holidays delay some data, officials say

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 9,757 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, as well as 238 coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday after officials said some data was delayed by the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

While 238 deaths is the most reported in Illinois since the start of the pandemic, the IDPH noted in its release that some data was, “delayed from the weekends, including this past holiday weekend.”

When measured over a 7-day average, the number of deaths reported by the state began to drop on Thanksgiving Day. Figures released Tuesday erased that decline by raising the average to around 115 deaths a day.

According to the CDC, Illinois has reported more deaths over the past seven days than any other state and ranks behind only South Dakota, North Dakota and New Mexico when population is taken into account.

Illinois has also seen a decline in its 7-day average of reported COVID-19 tests since Thanksgiving Day. The IDPH reported 85,507 new tests Wednesday, bringing the 7-day average to around 85,000, remaining below a peak of around 105,000 on November 25.

While the data reported Wednesday represented a significant spike in the number of deaths, it did not reverse the trend of a declining testing average, nor did it represent a significant spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The 9,757 new cases are near the previous 7-day average of around 9,200.

Health officials urged Americans to stay home over the upcoming holiday season Wednesday, as well as consider getting tested for coronavirus before and after if they do decide to travel.

WATCH ABOVE: Governor JB Pritzker and health officials give a regular update on COVID-19 in Illinois Wednesday

Officials have been warning of a potential surge in COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday, but the latest data released Wednesday raised the state’s 7-day average of cases only slightly to around 9,000.

All of Illinois remains under “Tier 3” coronavirus mitigation measures, while Governor Pritzker said regions which qualify for less-stringent restrictions will stay under the higher tier for a “few weeks” since officials expect a spike in COVID-19 cases.

According to the IDPH, 10.6% of reported tests from November 25-December 1 confirmed new cases of COVID-19, representing a slight increase in the case positivity rate for a third consecutive day.

The number of hospitalizations continued to decline Wednesday, with the IDPH reporting 5,764 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday night, including 1,190 in intensive care and 714 on ventilators.

British officials authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Wednesday, greenlighting the world’s first shot against the virus that’s backed by rigorous science and taking a major step toward eventually ending the pandemic.

Regulators in the United States and the European Union are also vetting the same Pfizer shot along with a similar vaccine made by competitor Moderna Inc. Federal officials said they have made preparations to enable the “immediate mass shipment” of COVID-19 vaccines within 24 hours after they receive final approval.

A committee advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday the first doses of any approved vaccine will to go to healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. In Chicago, health officials said the city could see its first COVID-19 vaccinations in a matter of weeks.

The CDC is also expected to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19 to 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result.

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