Illinois reports new COVID-19 daily caseload record

Illinois set another new record Friday for coronavirus infections, fueled by a large increase in testing.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,554 confirmed cases, a 13% jump from the record set a day earlier. There were also 38 additional deaths, bringing the total in Illinois lost to COVID-19 since the pandemic began to 9,165. There have been 336,174 confirmed cases.

Testing for the illness has steadily ramped up, and with it the rate of positive test results, which is now at 5.1% statewide.

“We’re in a new wave of COVID-19, all across the nation and here in Illinois,” public health spokesman Cris Martinez said. “Three of the worst states in the country are bordering our state.”

He urged residents to “help prevent senseless tragedy: Wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands.”

While Illinois test results have in recent weeks topped 50,000 and run as high as 60,000 or more, in the 24 hours prior to Friday’s report, state officials received results from 87,759 tests.

Testing is one key to containing the virus, officials believe. In theory, once someone who is sick is identified, contact-tracers can get to work finding out the people that person has been around and see that they get tested and take precautions.

The positivity rate is a number officials closely watch, and public health officials announced Friday that 34 counties — one-third of the state’s total — are at “warning level” for further restrictions on social interaction because of the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Counties get warning-level labels when two or more designated metrics are triggered, such as deaths per 100,000 residents, weekly test positivity rates or the availability of intensive care units in hospitals.

Research shows that in the counties on alert, high transmission rates are the result of weddings, funerals, gatherings in peoples’ homes, bars and clubs, colleges parties and sporting events, officials said. They urge local officials and law enforcement to take action to curb the spread.

“Public health officials are observing businesses blatantly disregarding mitigation measures, people not social distancing, gathering in large groups, and not using face coverings,” read a Public Health Department statement.

“Community leaders can be influential in ensuring citizens and businesses follow best practices,” the statement said.