UPDATED: Virus deaths, positivity rate spike amid low reported testing output
The graph shows the number of COVID-19 tests completed each day (blue), next to the number of positive cases those tests yield (red), according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. (Credit: Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois)
39 deaths highest in one day since June 26
Editor's note: This article was updated with more information from the Illinois Department of Public Health and with news of further mitigations in the Metro East region.
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — The number of COVID-19-related deaths and the single-day test positivity rate spiked Tuesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced an abnormally small number of tests results over the previous 24 hours.
The health department reported 39 deaths related to the virus, the highest single-day total since June 26. The rolling seven-day average positivity rate increased to 4.3 percent as the state reported 1,492 new confirmed cases among 22,961 test results reported in the previous 24 hours.
The testing output was the lowest reported in one day since July 6. Because of the low testing output, the single-day virus positivity rate was 6.5 percent, which is the highest one-day rate since June 2.
In response to questions regarding the low testing output, an IDPH spokesperson said only, “We reached the maximum capacity of our system and currently are in the process of expanding this. That work is underway now.”
“Reporting test results is working, but it is currently slow and backlogged due to the large volume of testing data that we have processed since the beginning of the pandemic,” the spokesperson said in a follow-up response to Shaw Media, adding the department is working to “eliminate the testing data backlog."
The spokesperson added the delay in data reporting “does not delay a person getting their test results.”
Prior to Tuesday’s output, the state had reported between 30,000 and 52,000 test results each day for the past 28 days, for an average of 44,905 per day over that span.
The 39 deaths reported Tuesday drove the total to 8,064 among 236,515 confirmed cases since the pandemic first reached Illinois.
Meanwhile, Region 4, which includes the Metro East area on the Missouri border, saw its positivity rate decline from 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent as of Saturday, according to the IDPH website. That was not a big enough decrease to offset further mitigation measures from the state.
The governor’s office on Tuesday afternoon announced further mitigations that will take effect in the region Wednesday. They include closure of bars and restaurants for indoor drinking and eating and limiting social gatherings to the lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity.
In Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee Counties, the positivity rate remained at 8.8 percent for the second straight day Saturday, which was four days after new mitigations took effect.
Those mitigations, effective since Wednesday, Aug. 26, include closure of restaurants and bars for indoor consumption.
Hospitalization numbers remain slightly above their pandemic lows as well. At the end of Monday, 1,513 people in Illinois were reported hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 362 were in an intensive care unit and 146 were on ventilators.
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.