State seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate hits lowest point since Oct. 23
The graph shows the rolling, 7-day positivity rate for tests completed starting on June 1. Illinois Department of Public Health data was used to calculate the averages. (Credit: Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois)
Hospitalization metrics continue to improve as well
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The state’s COVID-19 seven-day average case positivity rate dropped to 5.7 percent Tuesday, the lowest it has been since Oct. 23.
The positivity rate peaked at 13.2 percent on a rolling average as of Nov. 13, and the entire state entered strict Tier 3 mitigations on Nov. 20. Since then the positivity rate has been on a continual downward trend except for the two weeks following Christmas day when it rose from just under 7 percent to over 8.5 percent before beginning to fall again.
Hospitalizations for the disease continued on a gradual downward arc as well, decreasing for the eighth week in a row as of Sunday night after peaking the week ending Nov. 22.
There were 3,335 people reported hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois as of Monday night, while there were 3,473 people hospitalized on average each night for the seven days prior. That marked a 7 percent decrease from the week prior and a 43 percent drop from its peak the week ending Nov. 22.
Intensive care unit beds have followed similar trends with 713 of them in use by COVID-19 patients Monday night and 728 in use on average each night for the seven days prior. That marked a 5.9 percent decrease from the week prior and a 40 percent decrease from the week ending Nov. 29, when there were 1,209 in use on average.
COVID-19 patients occupied 395 ventilators as of Monday night, or slightly more than the 389 that were in use on average the seven days prior. That number marked an 8 percent decrease from the week prior and a 44 percent decrease from the Nov. 29 peak.
Approximately 32 percent of staffable hospital beds and 29 percent of staffable ICU beds remained unused statewide. That surge capacity had dropped to the high teens for ICU beds and low 20s for hospital beds in December.
Deaths related to COVID-19 have significantly dropped this week as well, although those numbers fluctuate daily and are lagging indicators of disease spread. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported another 33 deaths Tuesday after reporting 50 Monday and 29 Sunday.
The state had reported single-day death counts exceeding 100 for 17 of the past 30 days, and has not reported a death count this low in a three-day period since the end of October.
The progress on all of the key metrics has spurred the state to slowly begin removing mitigation measures that prohibited several indoor activities since Nov. 20 or earlier, depending on the region and the activity.
There was no tier movement reported by the state Tuesday, however, with Regions 3 and 5 remaining in Phase 4-level mitigations that allow for indoor dining and bar service; Regions 1, 2 and 6 in Tier 1 mitigations which allow for indoor dining and drinking as long as food is served; and Regions 8, 9, 10 and 11 all in Tier 2 which does not allow indoor dining but allows other establishments to open slightly more broadly.
Only Region 4 in the Metro East near St. Louis and Region 7 in Will and Kankakee Counties remain under the strictest Tier 3 mitigations, with Region 4 potentially one day away from moving back to Tier 2.
The state has now reported over 1 million cases of the disease and 18,291 deaths since the pandemic first reached Illinois, with more than 14.8 million test results reported.
As of Tuesday night, Illinois had received over 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with 508,732 having been administered, although administrators have three days to report a vaccination once it has been conducted.
Of the doses received, 781,350 were delivered to providers and 304,600 doses have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities. Of the doses administered, 69,976 have been part of the partnership program.
On average over the past week, the state administered 22,134 doses each day.
Gov. JB Pritzker’s office also announced the locations for four state-supported vaccination sites in Cook County Tuesday which will begin vaccinating individuals immediately.
They are in the municipalities of North Riverside, Robbins, Cicero and Ford Heights and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for health care workers who are part of Phase 1A before opening to those eligible for Phase 1B on January 25. More information is available at https://cookcountypublichealth.org/.
“Standing up these sites is a pivotal first step of a plan that coordinates our 97 local health departments statewide – who operate clinics already and will open up more as vaccine supply grows,” Pritzker said in a news release.
Phase 1B will begin statewide on Jan. 25 with sites giving vaccinations to those eligible by appointment only, according to the governor’s office. All residents over the age of 65 and frontline essential workers can receive the vaccine as part of Phase 1B.
IDPH will also partner with large pharmacies to launch new sites in communities across Illinois, according to the governors office. The sites announced Tuesday are being stood up through support from the Illinois National Guard.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.