Illinois COVID cases jump to 6-week high; travel quarantine order extended to suburbs
Public health officials Friday announced another 1,384 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois, the highest daily total reported by the state in more than six weeks.
But those new cases were detected among the latest record-high batch of 43,692 coronavirus test results reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health, lowering the state’s testing positivity rate in the last week to 3%.
That rate is still up from 2.5% last week, a “mild uptick” that Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said worries him that Illinois could be on the brink of a case surge such as those seen in dozens of other states.
Officials also announced the latest 22 deaths attributed to COVID-19, raising the state’s death toll to 7,272. And the health department tweaked its estimated numbers of “probable” but untested cases of COVID-19: an additional 193 deaths and 1,175 nonfatal infections.
At least 159,334 people have tested positive among almost 2.2 million who have been tested since March, with a 95% recovery rate.
Most of the state’s coronavirus deaths — 3,974 of them — have been tied to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which have seen at least 23,604 cases.
But a growing percentage of the latest infections, which officials have said accounts for the recent uptick in cases, have been detected among young people in the 18-29 age range. The youngest fatality reported Friday was a Cook County woman in her 30s.
After a devastating peak month of May, when officials announced an average of about 2,172 new virus cases per day, the state surpassed 1,000 cases in a day only twice in June.
That now has happened six times in July. The state is averaging about 950 new cases per day for the month.
It’s still a far cry from the raging outbreaks that have roiled dozens of states, mostly spanning the South and West, during the last month. But those states now include Illinois’
Midwestern neighbor Iowa.
The Hawkeye State was added to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s travel quarantine list earlier this week, a 17-state swath of hotspots from which travelers — both visitors and returning residents — have been ordered to selfisolate for two weeks.
Cook County officials announced Friday that an identical order is now in place for most of suburban Cook County.
“We have come a long way in Cook County and Illinois and we want to keep it that way,” Cook County Department of Public Health senior medical officer Dr. Rachel Rubin said in a statement. “It is summer and we know people want to travel, but we have to remain vigilant to keep our gains and avoid having to close places we’ve only just reopened.”
The order does not apply to residents of Evanston and Skokie, which each have their own state-certified local health departments. Skokie health director Dr. Catherine Counard said her northern suburb has “a difference of opinion on this matter.”
“In Skokie, we think the more important messages are that everyone should stay home if sick, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings in public settings, and wash our hands frequently,” Counard said in an email. “This is true no matter where a person is — simply spending time in another state, without engaging in risky behaviors, would not be expected to increase your risk of COVID-19 infection.”
Evanston officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In addition to Iowa, the travel quarantine list includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Oklahoma.
As of Thursday night, 1,431 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across Illinois, with 309 in intensive care units and 128 on ventilators.
Medical personnel clean and prep for tests at a mobile COVID-19 testing station at Edward Coles School in South Chicago on July 8.