After "promising declines" were reported in nearly all of Illinois' healthcare regions last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that "progress has cooled" across much of the state.
"We are seeing changes in positivity averages around the state level off, with three regions that were decreasing last week now sitting at a stable level," he said during an update Wednesday, which was delivered virtually as the governor continues to isolate following a staffer's positive test last week.
Pritzker said Region 5 and Region 9, which is home to Lake and McHenry counties near the Wisconsin border, have flipped from decreasing positivity rates to increasing.
Still, Region 3, which contains Springfield and Quincy, was the only area to switch from increasing to decreasing, Pritzker said.
Currently, two Illinois regions are above the state's 8 percent positivity threshold, both requiring heightened mitigations.
Region 4, known as the Metro East region, has been under stricter guidelines since late August, and Region 1, which holds Rockford, Dixon and Galena, increased restrictions Saturday.
"After falling from a peak 7 day average positivity of over 10 percent, Metro East then leveled off between an average of 7 and 8 percent positivity for several weeks, and has recently dropped to a new low of 6.3 percent as of this morning – that’s enormous progress, and if the region sustains an average below the 6.5 percent threshold, Region 4 could see a return to the looser mitigations enacted in most of the state as soon as this Friday," Pritzker said.
Illinois health officials on Wednesday reported 2,630 new coronavirus cases and 42 additional deaths over the last 24 hours.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Wednesday's figures bring the state’s total to 307,641 cases and 8,878 deaths since the pandemic began.
Illinois health officials said 58,820 new tests were returned to state laboratories over the last 24 hours, lifting the total number of tests across the state to 6,033,289. Those tests increase the state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate to 3.5%, level with the day before.
Hospitalizations in the state ticked up slightly again on Wednesday, with 1,679 patients currently hospitalized statewide. Of those patients, 372 were in intensive care units, and 165 were on ventilators.
An NBC 5 Investigates analysis found that cases in Illinois have risen fairly steadily to the point where last week, the state's daily average new caseload topped the 2,000 mark once again.
The state has been inching closer to where it was at the May peak, when cases were raging across the state and Illinois reached a record average high of 2,565 cases per day.
By mid-June, however, Illinois accomplished a major feat as new cases fell all the way down to 596 average daily cases on June 18, according to the analysis.
Chicago has fared better than the state as a whole, and much better than neighboring states. Lately, the city’s trendline of daily cases has been rising slightly.
As of Monday, the city reported an average of 325 new coronavirus cases per day – which is less than a third the level of average cases the city saw when the pandemic peaked in Chicago on May 4.
There is reason for concern when it comes to Illinois' daily coronavirus-related deaths, which are averaging 27 fatalities a day.
That trendline has been slowly rising since mid-August, when the city reported an average of 13 deaths per day – so – if this trend continues – the average daily death rate in Illinois has now doubled from its low point seven weeks ago.