Illinois excluding Champaign County from regional COVID data; two more county fatalities

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Ryan Ash

A coronavirus test site worker waits for students to arrive at the Illini Union test site on Oct. 30.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

Due to the extraordinary volume of tests coming from the University of Illinois, Illinois public health officials are excluding Champaign County tests from regional figures. 

Without the University’s average of 8,600 daily tests driving down the region’s positivity rate, the entire region, including Champaign, may be subject to additional restrictions. 

Region 6 encompasses 21 counties, from Lawrence County in the south to Iroquois County in the north, a 150-mile stretch. 

On Thursday, Region 6’s seven-day average positivity rate stood at 2%. Without Champaign County, it was at 7.6%, close to the 8% positivity benchmark when Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan requires a region to adopt more COVID-related restrictions. 

“We want to ensure that the large volume of tests at Urbana-Champaign does not overshadow the trends that we’re seeing in the broader region, and we don’t want to be inhibited from taking action to keep people safe,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday. “If regional metrics are tripped in Region 6 by looking at the data in this way, the entire region, including Champaign County, will still be required to implement mitigation efforts.”

Champaign County has regularly conducted around 80% of the region’s daily tests, sometimes 20% of the day’s statewide tests. 

If Region 6 crosses the 8% positivity threshold, restaurants and bars may have to close at 11 p.m., and in-person dining will be prohibited. 

On Sunday, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District confirmed another 28 cases of COVID-19 in Champaign County after 8,613 new tests, for a positivity rate of 0.33%. 

CUPHD also reported another 74 recoveries from the virus, driving the active case count down  by 46, to 360 active cases. 

Champaign County saw its first COVID-related fatalities in over a month last week, with three consecutive deaths on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

The two who died on Wednesday and Thursday were women in their 80s, and Friday’s death was a woman in her 90s. All had underlying health conditions, according to CUPHD’s Julie Pryde. 

To date, 4,941 people have tested positive for COVID-19 countywide. Of them 4,558 have recovered, six are hospitalized and 23 have died. 

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