Illinois' coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker says a key metric is now trending downward.
Pritzker said Friday the state's positivity rate "is coming down," a sign that the number of people getting sick from the virus is declining.
"Positivity rate is one of the metrics we're using to determine whether regions are eligible to move into phase three of the Restore Illinois plan in the weeks ahead," Pritzker said. "Right now, on a rolling 14-day basis, every region is meeting our positivity rate standard to move to phase three."
Friday's positivity rate sat at 9.2 percent while the state's seven-day average sat at 12 percent. Overall since February, the number has dropped to 16.8 percent, continuing a decline after the number peaked on April 4 at 23.6 percent.
"I would urge caution in reading too far into this decline, as there is a strong inverse correlation between the number of tests taken per day and the associated positivity rate, meaning that part of the reason for the lower positivity rate can be attributed to our increased testing," Pritzker said.
Pritzker said the good news to take from the numbers is that the average positivity rate for the last 14 days has dropped under 14% "and that's likely becoming a better indicator of the true infection rate in the general public than it was when testing was more limited."
Overall, Illinois reported 2,432 new cases of the coronavirus Friday and 130 deaths, lifting statewide totals to 90,369 cases and 4,058 deaths.
With just over two weeks left in Illinois' stay-at-home order, all regions across the state are currently on track to meet the metrics needed to move into the next phase of reopening.
Earlier this week, the Northeast region was not hitting the numbers required to enter phase three of the state's five-phased reopening plan. That region includes Cook, McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties.
As of Friday, however, the region's positivity rate fell just below the threshold needed - one of multiple factors required.
In order to enter phase three, a region "will be required to have a positivity rate of 20% or less and an increase of no more than 10% over a 14-day period."
According to data provided by the governor, the Northeast region's positivity rate dropped to 19.4% Friday.
At the same time, the North Central region sat at 7.5 percent, while the Central region reached 5.3 percent and the Southern region is at 8.2 percent, an increase from a day earlier.
No region can officially move forward until May 29, under the parameters of the governor's plan.
Other factors being looked at for a region's eligibility to enter phase three include hospitalization rates, bed availability and ventilator availability.