Yes, Illinois' total number of coronavirus cases is still climbing, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker says there's another important number to pay attention to.
Pritzker on Sunday said the number that many residents should be focused on is the "positivity rate."
"We talk about each day how many new people and that's really something to keep an eye on. The total numbers of people? Less important to keep an eye on, because the truth is we haven't tested everybody in the state and no state has and the numbers that get reported are really a function of how many tests we do," Pritzker said. "So we're looking at the new positive tests and comparing those to the total number of tests that were done for that day and it gives us a positivity rate that we want to track."
Nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in Illinois Sunday, as the state set a new single-day record for COVID-19 tests performed. According to data from the governor's office, the state performed 19,417 coronavirus tests within 24 hours over the weekend, shattering the previous single-day high.
Pritzker said Illinois is "doing a lot more testing than most places in the country" and he would discourage people from "just looking at the gross number of tests that are being done."
"Many other places are choosing not to test, which means that they don't show new cases. Because it's not a confirmed case, it doesn't get counted usually," Pritzker said. "So I would just say that I'd ignore a little bit the gross testing numbers and instead look at the positivity rate. How many people did we test? Among the people we tested how many tested positive? That is a number that ought to be going down for us. That's varied between about 21 and 15 percent. We want it to go down even further. It's an indication that there is a, you know, a lower infection rate across the state."
It's not the first time the governor has mentioned infection and positivity rates.
Pritzker has said that although total cases are going up, the percentage of positive tests is continuing to drop.
“It really is a function of doing more testing,” he said Saturday. “In fact, what you’ll find is a lower infection rate. If you do the math here of how many tests done as a denominator and how many positives as a numerator, you’ll see that we’ve come down on average, from what was around 21 or 22 percent infection rate to something in the high teens.”
Data available on the state’s coronavirus website Saturday showed the percentage of people with positive COVID-19 diagnoses gradually increased during the month of April, peaking at 21.4 percent on April 22.
Since that date however, the percentage has gradually declined. As of May 2, 19.5 percent of coronavirus tests have resulted in positive test results, according to state data.
The percentage of positive tests per day has also largely declined since April 21, when 23.4 percent of tests returned positive results. After a brief uptick on Thursday and Friday, Saturday saw 16.1 percent of tests come back positive.
Other data is showing that the number of available ventilators in the state has gradually increased, with 2,383 ventilators available as of Friday.