Statewide COVID-19 positivity rate continues to drop    

  By Tim Kirsininkas 
Capitol News Illinois

A medical professional administers a COVID-19 nasal swab test. (University of Illinois at Chicago photo)

The state’s rolling COVID-19 positivity rate dropped for the fifth straight day as Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported 5,862 new confirmed and probable cases with an additional 97 deaths Wednesday, Jan. 13.

The seven-day rolling positivity rate stood was 7.3 percent, down from 8.5 percent one week ago and down two-tenths of a percentage point from Tuesday, Jan. 12. The state has reported 1,046,030 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and the death toll is now 17,840 across the state’s 102 counties.

Wednesday marked two months since the state’s rolling positivity rate peaked at 13.2 percent Nov. 13. The entire state has been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20 in an effort to prevent an exacerbated spike in cases around the holidays.

The mitigations brought an immediate halt to indoor bar and restaurant service and required some buildings such as casinos, museums, and movie theaters to close temporarily.

Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that some IDPH-designated health regions could see Tier 3 mitigations loosened as early as Friday, depending on several key metrics.

Six of the 11 public health regions were meeting the governor’s requirements for Tier 2 as of Wednesday.

Pritzker attributed the mitigations as a key factor in slowing the spread of COVID-19 over the past several weeks.

“By operating with consistent and meaningful mitigations throughout the holiday season, Illinois saved lives, brought down community risk and set ourselves up to reduce these mitigations in a way that’s both safe and smart,” Pritzker tweeted on Tuesday.

According to IDPH, a region must experience a positivity rate below 12 percent for three consecutive days, have greater than 20 percent available intensive care units and hospital bed availability, and declining COVID hospitalizations for seven of the 10 days in order to be moved out of Tier 3 mitigations.

The regions that are not meeting the metrics are Region 4, which includes the Metro East region in southwestern Illinois; Region 6 in east central Illinois; as well as Regions 9, 10 and 11 which include Boone and Lake counties, suburban Cook County, and the city of Chicago.

Earlier this week, IDPH launched a new webpage that tracks the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations around the state, while IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike received her first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday.

IDPH announced Wednesday that a total of 384,658 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state to date.

Phase 1A of the IDPH vaccine administration plan includes health care personnel as well as staff and residents in long-term care facilities and congregate living settings.

Phase 1B will include all individuals age 65 and older, frontline essential workers, and prison inmates.