Pritzker touts COVID-19 testing as best in Midwest as Illinois reports 1,477 new cases, 7 related deaths

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- Days after Illinois passed the milestone of 5 million COVID-19 tests performed to date, Governor JB Pritzker said the state’s testing capacity is among the best in the country Monday.

Pritzker said labs across the state were only able to perform a few hundred COVID-19 tests when the pandemic first came to Illinois in March, but as of Monday they are averaging more than 50,000 per day.

“For families businesses, schools and churches, that means there is a measure of safety here that doesn’t exist most other states,” Pritzker said.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, labs across the state performed 38,234 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, while 1,477 new cases and seven coronavirus-related deaths were reported Monday.

The statewide positivity rate from September 14 – 20 came remains at 3.5 percent, the IDPH reports, while hospitalizations remain within state limits with 1,436 people patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 364 in intensive care and 153 on ventilators.

Pritzker credited medical professionals, the state’s mobile testing clinics and the Illinois National Guard as the “unsung heroes” which helped grow testing in the state, saying the average of more than 52,000 tests is tied for third place in the country, coming behind only California and New York.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows Illinois ranks 9th in the U.S. in the number of weekly tests per 1,000 residents (4.2) as of Monday, and ranks above other Midwestern states.

Those more than 5 million tests have resulted in 275,735 positive COVID cases and 8,457 deaths in the state. Health officials estimate 96 percent of confirmed cases have recovered to date.

Mobile testing units are also helping places with a high level of community spread like the Metro East region outside St. Louis, Pritzker said, where additional coronavirus mitigation measures remain in place after the positivity rate there passed the state’s limit of 8 percent.

“The Metro East is coming down in its positivity rate. We are rooting for them,” said Gov. Pritzker. “I am prayerful and hopeful that they are getting there and we can remove the mitigations on them.”

As of September 18, the 7-day rolling positivity rate for Region 4 is below the state limit at 7.3 percent as it continues to decline, but needs to reach a 14-day average at or below 6.5 percent for the additional restrictions to be lifted.

An official with the St. Clair County Health Department, one of the counties in Region 4, says the department has been rigid about its contact tracing efforts and getting residents to wear masks.

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