Illinois hits record high in new cases, half of counties in “warning level”

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Photo Courtesy of Teresa Crawford/AP Images

Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during a news conference on July 15. On Saturday, Illinois reached a new single-day high in COVID-19 cases.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

Illinois hit its single-day high in new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 6,161 new cases after 83,000 more tests. 

Half of Illinois’ 102 counties were moved to the “warning level” for COVID-19 on Friday by the state’s department of public health. The number of counties in the warning level increased by 34 in just a week as the nation grapples with a new surge in COVID-19 cases. 

“Although the reasons for counties reaching a warning level varies, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with gatherings in people’s homes, weddings and funerals, bars and clubs, university and college parties as well as college sports teams, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools and cases among the community at large, especially people in their 20s,” Illinois Department of Public Health wrote on its website. 

A county triggers the warning level when it surpasses two or more of the following eight coronavirus risk indicators:

  • more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the county;
  • weekly number of deaths increase more than 20% for two straight weeks;
  • the seven-day test positivity rate rises above 8%;
  • fewer than 20% of intensive care units are available in the region;
  • the weekly percent of “COVID-19-like illness” emergency department visits or hospital admissions increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks;
  • an inadequate level of testing is performed in the county;
  • a large number or percentage of cases associated with certain “clusters” 

Illinois’ top public health official, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, urged state residents to “fight the fatigue” and follow COVID-19 protocols during the Friday press briefing. 

“If you’re talking about COVID fatigue from having to keep wearing a mask, think about the COVID fatigue for health care workers, respiratory therapists who are going to have to go through this whole episode again, of trying to fight for peoples’ lives, because we couldn’t figure out how to control this virus, by doing some of the simple measures that have been prescribed,” Dr. Ezike said. 

The previous single-day high was on Thursday when Illinois reported another 4,942 cases. 

On Friday and Saturday, the U.S. set single-day records for new cases, with nearly 84,000 new cases of the virus each day, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard. 

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