COVID-19’s ‘new wave’ brings Illinois its most deadly day since spring, with 69 more deaths reported

COVID-19’s ‘new wave’ brings Illinois its most deadly day since spring, with 69 more deaths reported

Nurse practitioner Capri Rees, left, looks at the monitor for a heart rhythm while respiratory therapist Khafran Alshahin performs chest compressions on an 80-year-old man suffering from COVID-19 at Roseland Community Hospital in April. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 4,342 more people tested positive for the deadly virus, the second-highest daily tally during the pandemic.

The coronavirus claimed more lives than it has on any other day in Illinois over the past four months, as public health officials Wednesday attributed 69 additional deaths to COVID-19.

It’s the most in a single day since the 84 deaths recorded June 17, as the state was coming down from its initial peak of the pandemic.

More than 2,900 people have died with the virus statewide since then, and Illinois’ overall pandemic death toll stands at 9,345 with the state facing a “new wave” of surging coronavirus cases, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team.

“These figures represent lives, parents, grandparents, coworkers who will not be with us at Thanksgiving,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday. “We have a deadly virus that is still prevalent throughout the state of Illinois. Let’s please get together, band together, because none of us can do this alone. individualism won’t get us through this pandemic.”

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The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced 4,342 more people tested positive for the deadly virus, the second-highest daily tally of the pandemic. That marks 15 consecutive days that the state has recorded 2,000 or more new cases.

While the state’s expanded testing capacity is one factor behind recent sky-high case counts, the percentage of people testing positive is going “in the wrong direction,” Ezike said.

The latest cases were confirmed among 66,791 tests, raising the seven-day average statewide testing positivity rate to 5.7% — up from 3.3% a little over two weeks ago, and as high as it’s been since early June.

Experts say increasing COVID-19 counts eventually lead to increasing numbers of people who need hospital treatment. As of Tuesday night, 2,338 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, the most being treated on any night since June 10.

Experts also say increasing hospitalizations eventually lead to increasing death tolls. The state has averaged 34 coronavirus deaths per day over the past two weeks, up from about 21 deaths per day this time last month.

The latest victims were mostly elderly, including 13 Cook County residents, but a DuPage County man in his 30s was among those to lose their bouts with the respiratory disease.

The state suffered its worst day for COVID-19 deaths on May 13, which saw 191 fatalities.

Since March, almost 7 million coronavirus tests have been administered statewide, with a 97% recovery rate among 355,217 people confirmed to carry the virus.

By the end of this week, COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Pritzker will be in place in four of the state’s 11 regions — including many of Chicago’s south and west suburbs — due to rising testing positivity rates.

Those restrictions, which include a ban on indoor bar and restaurant service, are triggered if a region consistently exceeds 8% positivity. They go into effect Friday in both the Kane-DuPage County region, which is up to 9.2%, and the Will-Kankakee County region, which is at 8.7%.

Restrictions are also in place in the northwest corner and southern tip of the state, though rates are rising “across the board,” according to Pritzker, who is scheduled to hold a daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday afternoon.

According to state metrics, Chicago is at 7% positivity, suburban Cook County at 7.2% and the Lake-McHenry County region at 7.7%.

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