116 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, 6,239 new cases as positivity rate falls

A health care worker at Mount Sinai Hospital receives one of the Southwest Side hospital’s first 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination last week. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

While deaths remain high, the state has averaged about 6,800 new cases a day over the last week, down from a staggering rate of about 11,800 cases per day this time last month.  Illinois’ coronavirus numbers took another step in the right direction Tuesday as public health officials announced 6,239 more people have contracted COVID-19, while another 116 residents died of the virus.
The new cases were diagnosed among 84,764 tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, lowering the state’s average positivity rate over the last week to 7.4%.
That number, which indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading, has shrunk almost by half compared to the peak of Illinois’ autumn resurgence when it soared to 13.2% on Nov. 13.
On Monday, the state reported its smallest daily caseload in almost two months, with 4,699 new infections. That’s still higher than the springtime peak of 4,014 reported on May 12, but it’s less than a third of the all-time high 15,415 cases reported on Nov. 13.
The state has averaged about 6,800 new cases per day over the last week compared to a staggering rate of about 11,800 cases per day this time last month.

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But COVID-19 deaths are still mounting as quickly as ever. About 130 Illinoisans have died of the coronavirus on average each day over the last week, compared to about 110 deaths per day this time last month.
The latest 116 victims included 41 Cook County residents and 21 other people from the Chicago area.

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Hospitalizations increased by 111 patients to 4,571 statewide as of Monday night. The number of patients receiving intensive care stayed level at 981 while the number on ventilators increased slightly to 557.
Hospitalizations have generally trended downward across the state since reaching a peak of 6,175 beds occupied by coronavirus patients the night of Nov. 20.
The state’s gradual improvement comes as public health officials work to immunize the state’s health care workforce of about 655,000.
As of Monday, about 63,000 workers outside Chicago had received doses from the state’s initial 109,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.
Illinois is slated to receive about 60,500 more Pfizer shots this week from the federal government, including about 16,600 sent directly to Chicago.
Most of those will be set aside for nursing home residents, who are expected to be inoculated beginning next week through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens, according to Pritzker’s office.
The supply is expected to be bolstered Wednesday and Thursday as the state begins receiving its first 174,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, about 46,800 of which are earmarked for Chicago.
After health care workers and the state’s roughly 110,000 long-term care facility residents, next in line for shots are essential workers and older people with underlying health conditions. It’ll be several months before the vaccine is widely available.
Since March, about 12.6 million coronavirus tests have been administered in Illinois, with 911,308 people testing positive and 15,414 of those dying. The recovery rate is 98%.

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