108 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, 7,562 new cases

Pharmacy resident Rona Jin prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and draws doses Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital. Hospitals across the state are aiming to administer the remainder of the state’s first 109,000 vaccine doses this weekend. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The state is stuck in an unprecedented 12-day streak of reporting 100 or more deaths, the worst stretch of the pandemic. Public health officials on Saturday announced 108 more Illinois residents have died of COVID-19, which has spread to an additional 7,562 residents.
The new cases were diagnosed among 96,851 tests, slightly raising the state’s average positivity rate over the last week to 8.2%.
That number still has trended gradually downward along with other key metrics over the last month, since the state hit the peak of its coronavirus resurgence in late November.
The latest caseload marked the ninth straight day with fewer than 10,000 cases reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health, while the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients has steadily declined over that period, too, down to 4,624 as of Friday night.
But the state is stuck in an unprecedented 12-day streak of reporting 100 or more deaths, the worst stretch of the pandemic. The latest victims included 55 Chicago-area residents.

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The virus has claimed almost 2,900 lives so far this month alone. Since March, Illinois’ coronavirus death toll has risen to 15,123, among more than 894,000 people who have contracted the virus. The recovery rate in Illinois is 98%.
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities only account for about 7% of all the cases logged by the state (59,970), but nearly half the death toll (7,559).

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Saturday marked the first time since the end of November that Chicago’s average positivity rate has fallen below 12% (down to 11.9%).
Two other regions (northwest Illinois and the east-central region including Champaign) have dipped below that mark and hit other benchmarks set last month by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that would’ve allowed them to shed business restrictions. But the Democratic governor has said he won’t lift any of his mitigations unless the state makes it through the holiday season without a severe resurgence.
In the meantime, the state is working to vaccinate its 655,000-plus health care workers. About 17,000 doses of Illinois’ first allotment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine had been administered by Friday. Hospitals were working to give out the remainder of the state’s initial 109,000-dose supply through the weekend
The federal government is slated to ship more Pfizer doses to Illinois next week, and the state could begin receiving shipments of the newly approved Moderna vaccine by then too “if all goes well,” Pritzker tweeted.

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