CHICAGO — Every region of Illinois reported either flat or falling COVID-19 test positivity rates Monday, while the number of hospitalizations continues to rise statewide.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,322 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Monday, as well as 47 additional coronavirus-related deaths.
Additionally, health officials reported another day with a decline in the statewide COVID-19 case positivity rate, with the rate measured from November 16-22 dropping to 10.9%.
After rising steadily since early October, 7-day test positivity rates which reflect the number of positive tests compared to the total performed have been either dropping or flat in regions across the state for more than a week.
All of Illinois remains under “Tier 3” COVID-19 mitigation measures Monday, with theaters, museums and casinos shuttered, store capacity limited to 25% and indoor service at bars and restaurants not allowed across the state.
While test positivity rates are declining, none of the regions have yet reached the 12% level where added Tier 3 restrictions would be rolled back.
Testing has continued to expand statewide, with state health officials reporting 91,562 new tests performed in the past 24 hours alone. As of Monday, the state is averaging more than 104,000 daily tests over a 7-day period, data compiled by WGN-TV shows.
Test results found through rapid saliva-based tests are being labeled as “probable” cases following CDC guidelines, with those tests making up 4% of the total reported Monday.
While testing is increasing statewide, drops in test positivity rates seen in some Chicago-area regions are outpacing the rise in testing.
The North Suburban Region including Lake and McHenry counties saw the biggest recent drop in its 7-day test positivity rate, declining from 17.1% on November 13 to 13.9% on November 20. While the test positivity rate dropped by 19%, the region’s 7-day testing average rose by only 1.6% over that same period.
Although it has flattened in recent days, the 7-day positivity rate in the South Suburban Region including Will and Kankakee counties continues to see the highest in the state, coming in at 19.2% as of Friday.
Coronavirus hospitalizations continue to rise in Illinois, with the IDPH reporting 6,171 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday night, including 1,206 in intensive care and 635 on ventilators.
The South Suburban region is also below the state’s “warning” level for availability of both intensive care unit and “surge” hospital beds as of Monday.
Measured over a 7-day period, Illinois is also averaging around 110 coronavirus-related deaths a day after the state reported four days with more than 100 deaths over the previous week.
Both hospitalizations and deaths are considered “lagging indicators” of the spread of COVID-19, as it can take several days for a case to become serious. Health officials estimate 97% of confirmed cases have recovered to date.
The elderly make up the majority of lives lost to COVID-19 in Illinois, with more than 70% of victims over the age of 70 and roughly half of deaths linked to long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
Across the Chicago area, nearly 700 nursing home workers walked off the job to begin a strike Monday.
Members of the SEIU Health Care Illinois Union who are employed at 11 Infinity-owned facilities in the greater Chicago area are demanding hazard pay and changes to working conditions while treating patients with COVID-19 inside nursing homes.
More than 2 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, after the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans not to travel for the holiday.
While that’s far lower than during the same time last year, Friday was only the second time since mid-March that daily airport screenings topped 1 million.
AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed that its COVID-19 vaccine with Oxford University was up to 90% effective in preventing disease.
It is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine as public health officials around the world anxiously wait for vaccines that will end the pandemic that has killed almost 1.4 million people.