Illinois health officials report 2,166 new coronavirus cases, 25 deaths

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CHICAGO — Illinois health officials said 2,166 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed over the past 24 hours Thursday.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the COVID-19 test positivity rate from September 24-30 came in at 3.5 percent, while the results of over 65,000 tests were reported over the past 24 hours.

The 7-day average for both the number of COVID-19 cases and tests in the state have been rising steadily since mid-September, data compiled by WGN shows, while the positivity rate has been stable over the same period. The weekly average of deaths has been between 20 and 24 a day over that period, and remains higher than the lowest levels seen in mid-August.

Hospitalizations across the state remain within state guidelines, with 1,635 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday night, including 359 in intensive care and 149 on ventilators. Experts estimate 96 percent of confirmed cases have recovered to date.

The 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate remains flat or is declining in the majority of the regions established in the state’s “Restore Illinois” plan. However, some regions are subject to additional restrictions after their positivity rate rose above the state’s limit of 8 percent.

Additional coronavirus mitigation measures will take effect October 3 in the “North Region” including Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties after the positivity rate there passed the 8 percent limit.

The new restrictions include a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants, capacity limits of 25 people or 25 percent, and requirements for casinos, bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. The positivity rate in the region came in at 8.2 percent as of September 28, and the 14-day average will need to drop below 6.5 percent in order for the restrictions to be lifted.

According to the IDPH, 109 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among 1,824 tests in the region on Monday. Winnebago County reported the most daily tests by far at 714, with a 6 percent daily positivity rate.

Additional restrictions remain in effect in the “Metro East ” region outside St. Louis, although the positivity rate there remains below the state’s limit at 7.5 percent as of Monday. The 14-day average of the region’s positivity rate still remains above the state’s 6.5 percent threshold.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike warned the “East-Central” region could be next, as health officials recently started tracking its positivity rate without data from Champaign County due to a high number of tests being performed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Under this updated metric, the 7-day positivity rate there came in at 7.2 percent as of Monday.

As experts fear a second wave of infections in the U.S., Midwestern states are seeing some of the nation’s highest per capita rates of infection. Some hospitals in Wisconsin and North Dakota are running low on space, and the Tennessee Titans postponed a game due to an outbreak.

Nationwide, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week to a still-high 837,000, evidence that the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery that began this summer.

After months of negotiations and wrangling over the idea of a second round of direct payments to Americans, there are mixed messages about the possibility of new stimulus checks from the federal government.

Republicans and Democrats agree they should be part of any coronavirus relief package, but the two sides are approximately $700 million off on the size of an aid measure.

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