181 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, 8,828 new cases

Nurse Jessica Bell administers sedative medication for a man with COVID-19 last week in the intensive care unit at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Most of the state’s key COVID-19 metrics kept trending in the right direction, though, with the average statewide positivity rate dipping to 8.4%. Public health officials on Thursday announced the coronavirus has killed another 181 residents and spread to 8,828 more, the highest daily figures the state has reported in a week.
Most of the state’s key COVID-19 metrics still kept trending in the right direction, though, with the new cases confirmed among 92,015 tests to lower the average statewide positivity rate to 8.4%.
That number, which experts use to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading, has slowly declined from 13.2% on Nov. 13, when the state hit a peak in its record-setting autumn resurgence.
Hospital admissions have gradually fallen from all-time highs in late November, too. As of Wednesday night, 4,751 hospital beds across the state were occupied by COVID-19 patients, with 1,056 receiving intensive care and 575 using ventilators. On the busiest night of the pandemic for hospitals, COVID-19 patients were taking up 6,175 beds Nov. 20.
But hospitals are still stretched thin in the downstate Metro East region, where only 14 ICU beds were available as of Wednesday night, and in the southern Illinois region, where 17 beds were open.
And the state’s death rate has shown no signs of slowing down. The virus has claimed nearly 4,000 lives over the last month alone, making for a brutal average of 133 deaths per day. During the worst 30-day stretch of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, about 100 deaths were reported each day.
The latest victims included 94 Chicago-area residents, including a Cook County man in his 20s.

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Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike has said the state has reached “the beginning of the end” thanks to the arrival of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine — though the state will receive about half the doses it originally was promised next week by the federal government.
The state’s first shipment of 109,000 doses are still expected to be administered to frontline health care workers this week. Rush University Medical Center said its workers would begin receiving their shots Thursday afternoon.

A first batch of the #COVID19Vaccine arrived this morning at Rush University Medical Center. Vaccinations of staff members are scheduled to start later today. pic.twitter.com/wCV6kK72W2— Rush University System for Health (@RushMedical) December 17, 2020

Since March, a total of 879,428 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois and 14,835 of them have died. The recovery rate is 97%.

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