SPRINGFIELD — Hospitalizations for COVID-19 and the seven-day test positivity rate for the virus increased again in Illinois on Monday, mirroring national trends.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that the state would increase mitigations in southern Illinois and announced he would once again hold daily weekday COVID-19 briefings until metrics start to decrease.
“While we continue to see a safer pandemic landscape than back in April and May, in terms of positivity, hospital capacity and community spread ... things have changed,” Pritzker said while noting Illinois’ positivity rates are still generally lower than its Midwest neighbors. “Every region of the state has started to move in the wrong direction.”
The statewide rolling positivity rate — which is driven lower by a massive saliva testing program at the University of Illinois that often yields positivity rates on campus of less than 1 percent — increased to 5.4 percent as of Monday, marking 15 straight days of increases.
That came as the state reported an average of 3,662 new cases each day from Saturday through Monday among an average of 68,490 test results reported each day. Another 71 COVID-19-positive people died over the three-day period. That brought the death toll since the pandemic began to 9,236 among 347,161 confirmed cases with more than 6.8 million test results reported.
Hospitalizations, intensive-care bed usage and ventilator usage for COVID-19 all spiked in the state as of Sunday evening as well.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, reiterated no age group is immune from debilitating effects of the virus.
Pritzker and Ezike were in Murphysboro Monday to announce new mitigations in the region encompassing 20 of the state’s southernmost counties. That area, Region 5 of the mitigation plan, saw its positivity rate increase to 9.1 percent, exceeding 8 percent for the third straight day.
On Thursday, it will join Region 1 in the northern part of the state, including Winnebago County to the western border, as areas that have added restrictions, including closure to indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants and capacity limitations of 25 people or 25 percent of a room’s capacity.
Dr. Craig Davis, who works for Southern Illinois Healthcare, noted at the news conference that COVID-19 hospitalizations have “tripled in the last couple of days” in the area.
“What remains most alarming to me as a physician and father is the complacency I see in some of our community members, and the polarization over simple infection prevention methods, especially surrounding masks and social distancing,” he said. “I understand the mental, physical, social fatigues that we’re all dealing with. Our daily lives have been totally upended by this. And I understand everyone has a yearning for returning to normalcy. But I urge everyone to stay the course.”
Despite having added restrictions in place since Oct. 3, Region 1 saw its rate remain level at 11.1 percent as of Oct. 16 when the most recent data were available. That marks six straight days above 10 percent.
Positivity rates were trending upward in the rest of the state’s mitigation regions as well.