Illinois coronavirus death toll eclipses 5,000, but infection rates continue to decline

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker answers questions from the media, along with Dr. Ngozi Ezike, left, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic from his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill.

Governor JB Pritzker announced Wednesday 160 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, which brings the statewide total to 5,083 deaths in Illinois.

The state saw 1,111 positive cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 114,306 positive cases.

There were 17,179 tests performed in the last 24 hours, and the state reported a 6.4% single day positivity rate. The state's rolling seven-day positive average is down to 8.6%.

There have been a total of 803,973 tests performed in the state to date.

There are 3,826 people with COVID-19 in the hospital, and of those 1,031 are in the ICU and 592 on a ventilator.

Illinois has a 92% recovery rate as of Wednesday. About 80% of people who have been infected with the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms, and about 20% of people experience more serious symptoms, Pritzker said.

“The vast majority of those individuals who tested positive have already recovered or experienced mild enough cases that they’re recovering at home,” Pritzker said.

In order to contain the spread of the virus, the Illinois Department of Public Health has launched a contact tracing initiative in St. Clair County, located in southern Illinois, one of the two major contact tracing programs in the state. Pritzker's daily news conference took place from St. Clair County on Wednesday.

The tracing grant will allow the St. Clair County Department of Health and the Eastside Health District in East St. Louis to hire people to contact people with COVID-19 and ask them if they are staying at home, who they were in contact with and during which points they were contagious, said St. Clair County Board chairman Mark Kern. The governor did not say how much the grant was.

Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside, public health administrator at the Eastside Health District, added that contact tracing “is simply investigating who is who a positive COVID person came in contact with within 10 minutes or more” and monitor them daily for 14 days.

“But that's not all that we do. Yes, we contact them daily, but we are a resource for them. We are there to help them. This is a very important and needed job within our community. We are their lifeline for continued resources for help,” Patton-Whiteside said.

Pritzker said contact tracing in Illinois is currently at 30% of what the state needs to have effective surveillance of COVID-19.

“You need more than the hundreds of contact tracers that we have. So what we're doing is working with local departments of public health to make sure that they get contact tracing dollars, so that they can higher up contact [tracers],” he said.

Regional update: The Northeast region (Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, McHenry, Lake and Will counties) is on track for Phase 3 with 14.5% positivity rate, a 3.8% decrease in the last 14 days. The region reported a 54.2% decrease in hospital admissions since May 1. The region also reported 26% medical/surgical bed availability, 28.9% ICU bed availability, and 65.6% ventilator availability.

The The North Central region (Bureau, DeKalb, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Putnam and Jo Daviess counties) is also on track for Phase 3 with a 7.2% positivity rate. The region reported a 29.7% decrease in hospital admissions since May 1. The region has 38.4% medical/surgical bed availability, 41.3% ICU bed availability, and 58.9% ventilator availability.

In order to move into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan this Friday, each of the state's health regions must ensure that testing is available for hospital patients, healthcare workers, first responders and people with underlying health conditions.

Testing must also be made available to the residents and staff of congregate living facilities, according to the plan. A system for COVID-19 contact tracing and monitoring must be in place and able to respond 24 hours after diagnosis.

In addition to these requirements, each region must report an average positivity rate of 20% or lower, increasing no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period.

Regions must also report no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 for a period of 28 days, meaning hospitalizations must decrease or remain stable.

Finally, each region must prove available surge capacity of at least 14% of ICU beds, medical/surgical beds and ventilators.

New deaths announced include:

- Clinton County: 1 male 60s

- Coles County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 100+

- Cook County: 1 female 30s, 2 males 40s, 3 females 50s, 4 males 50s, 8 females 60s, 14 males 60s, 7 females 70s, 20 males 70s, 17 females 80s, 13 males 80s, 8 females 90s, 4 males 90s, 1 unknown 90s

- DuPage County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s

- Kane County: 1 female 60s, 3 females 70s, 3 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 90s

- Kankakee County: 1 female 80s

- Lake County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 4 females 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 7 females 90s, 2 males 90s

- Madison County: 1 unknown 70s

- McDonough County: 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s

- McHenry County: 1 male 80s

- McLean County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s

- Randolph County: 1 female 80s

- Rock Island County: 1 female 80s

- Sangamon County: 1 female 80s

- Will County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s

- Williamson County: 1 male 50s

- Winnebago County: 1 female 50s