Illinois passes 240K COVID-19 infections as state reports 1,360 new cases, 25 deaths

Coronavirus Watch Illinois

(File Photo) Danny Osborne, Wildlife Director for Eco Station, helps a student seated in a socially distanced protective learning pod during a livestream class at STAR Eco Station Tutoring & Enrichment Center on September 2, 2020 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Illinois health officials reported 1,360 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to more than 240,000.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 240,003 cases of COVID-19 and 8,115 related deaths have been confirmed to date. Health experts estimate 95 percent of confirmed cases have recovered.

The 7-day coronavirus test positivity rate from August 27 – September 2 declined slightly to 4.4 percent, near where it has been since rising in late July.

The 1,360 cases reported Thursday is below the current 7-day average of about 1,800, according to data compiled by WGN, and that average has been declining from an August 23 high of about 2,000 after rising since mid-June.

When it comes to deaths related to COVID-19, data shows the 25 reported Thursday is higher than the current 7-day average of about 20, where it has been since rising in mid August.

Governor JB Pritzker said Wednesday cases in Illinois are trending up, as stricter mitigation measures are now in place in both the Metro East region outside St. Louis and the South Suburban region, which includes Will and Kankakee counties.

The 7-day positivity rates in those regions remain above the state’s 8 percent limit, with a rate of 9.3 percent in the Metro East region and 8.8 percent in South Suburban region as of August 31. As of the week of August 16 – 22, 31 Illinois counties reached the state’s “warning” level for at least one coronavirus metric, including number of new cases, positivity rate or number of cases per population.

Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx said during a visit on Monday that she and other health officials are most concerned about the rate of spread in rural communities across Illinois, with some reporting positivity rates of over 10 percent.

Hospital resources and coronavirus-related hospitalizations remain well within state guidelines, with 1,620 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday night, including 360 in intensive care and 144 on ventilators.

Officials at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana said Wednesday they will start actively searching for large gatherings and suspend any students found to be hosting parties, after a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced also Wednesday that he, his wife Lauren and two daughters, ages 2 and 4 years old, tested positive for COVID-19 but have since recovered.

A Minnesota man who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota last month has died from COVID-19, Minnesota health officials reported Wednesday, marking the first reported death following a biker rally that drew hundreds of thousands of people.

After two months of computational studies, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory identified five COVID-19 treatment candidates and are now turning to drug companies to launch clinical trials with patients.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked state officials to be ready to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as October. Three vaccines are currently in Phase 3 trials in the U.S., and a CDC official said previously they may authorize an experimental vaccine before Phase 3 trials have been completed.

Figures released Thursday show the number of laid-off Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to roughly 880,000 last week, a sign of possible improvement but evidence that the viral pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs.

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