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2,166 more coronavirus cases keep Illinois on pace to surpass 300K this weekend

Columbia College students hold a performance class outside in Grant Park on Tuesday, as part-time faculty have asked for stricter COVID-19 guidelines. Columbia College students hold a performance class outside in Grant Park on Tuesday, as part-time faculty have asked for stricter COVID-19 guidelines. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

About 2.4% of the state’s population of 12.7 million residents have contracted the virus, while many more cases have gone undetected.

Public health officials on Thursday announced 2,166 more people have contracted COVID-19 in Illinois as the virus claimed 25 more lives statewide.

More than 295,000 residents have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic hit six months ago, with 8,696 of those cases proving fatal. Among the latest victims was a Cook County woman in her 40s, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The state has added new coronavirus cases at a rate of about 1,945 per day over the last two weeks, putting Illinois on pace to surpass 300,000 cases of the virus by the end of the weekend.

That means about 2.4% of the state’s population of 12.7 million residents have contracted the virus — while experts agree many more cases have gone undetected. State health officials consider at least 2,489 more infections and 244 deaths to have been “probable” COVID-19 cases.

Still, infection numbers have improved in Illinois since a mid-summer surge. The latest batch of cases were confirmed among 65,615 tests submitted to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team, lowering the statewide testing positivity rate to 3.5%, as low as it’s been since late July.

That number indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading. The positivity rate had soared close to 20% at Illinois’ pandemic peak in mid-May.

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Chicago is at 4.6% positivity, while suburban Cook County is at 5.1%.

But with four-digit caseloads still piling up daily, officials urge people to continue wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands regularly. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced county health officials are distributing 500,000 more masks in vulnerable communities.

“Science tells us that a mask — a simple mask — can literally save lives, as we continue the battle against COVID-19,” Preckwinkle said in a statement. “If our residents are armed with masks and use them properly, we can remain healthy and keep those we come into contact with healthy as well.”

Statewide, nearly 5.7 million coronavirus tests have been administered overall.

As of Wednesday night, 1,635 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with 359 in intensive care units and 149 on ventilators.

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