CHICAGO — Illinois health officials reported the highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases in a month Wednesday, as Governor JB Pritzker announced plans to expand testing across the state.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 980 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed over the past 24 hours. This is the highest single-day increase in cases since June 3, when 982 cases were reported.
Over the past 14 days, Illinois has averaged about 778 new cases a day. However, the state’s positivity rate from July 1 – July 7, which measures the percent of COVID-19 tests which come back positive, rose only slightly to 2.6 percent.
On Wednesday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced the expansion of mobile COVID-19 testing sites across Illinois during a visit to one such site in South Chicago.
According to a release, 12 mobile sites will bring free drive-through and walk-up testing to areas hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, including nursing homes and homeless shelters.
The initial sites are located in Chicago, Rock Island, Cicero, Brighton Park, Springfield and East St. Louis.
Students and staff at the University of Illinois can also get tested for the coronavirus with a saliva sample instead of an uncomfortable nasal swab at campuses in Chicago and Springfield.
To date, 1,842,576 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Illinois. State officials confirmed 149,432 cases and 7,099 related deaths, and estimate 94 percent of people with confirmed cases have recovered.
Pritzker said COVID-related deaths in Illinois are down 85 percent from a high eight weeks ago, and overall cases are down 71 percent from the peak.
The governor also announced Wednesday the 500 Illinois National Guard troops which have been operating 11 state-run testing facilities across the state will end their missions starting this month, as private contractors take over day-to-day operations of the sites.
While schools are resuming summer sports activities under the state’s Phase 4 guidelines for reopening, programs in the Lake Zurich school district were shut down Tuesday after several athletes tested positive for COVID-19.
Lake County health officials say they’ve seen a surge in infection rates for those 30 and under over the last two weeks.
Still, the number of individuals hospitalized with cases of COVID-19 in Illinois remains relatively low. As of Tuesday, state officials said 1,518 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 331 in intensive care and 151 on ventilators.
The United States saw over 60,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, making it another record-breaking day. Florida was among the top five states reporting the most new infections.
Earlier Wednesday, Pritzker testified remotely before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security on Examining the National Response to the Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic.
During his testimony, Pritzker called on President Donald Trump to implement a national mask mandate to slow the spread of coronavirus.