Illinois’ 7-day average for COVID-19 deaths is lowest in weeks as state records 7,037 new cases, 96 more fatalities

Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Illinois’ seven-day average for coronavirus deaths fell to 116 on Thursday, its lowest point since Dec. 2.

The state recorded another 96 deaths on Christmas Eve, the third time in the past week that there have been fewer than 100 deaths reported in a day. The average number of fatalities per day was down 25% from the pandemic’s peak weekly average of 154 deaths during the week ending Dec. 11.

Thursday also marked the first time since early this month that the average number of daily deaths fell below the spring peak of 118, recorded in mid-May.

In all, Illinois has recorded 15,643 COVID-19 deaths since March.

State health officials also reported 7,037 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus, the third straight day-over-day increase. But the number of test results reported in the previous 24 hours also was up significantly from the previous days, and the seven-day average of new cases, which officials monitor to smooth out day-to-day fluctuations, continues to decline.

The average number of daily cases was 6,526 for the week ending Thursday, down from 7,985 cases per day the prior week.

The case positivity rate — the percentage of positive cases as a share of total tests — reached a statewide seven-day average of 7.2% for the week ending Wednesday, the lowest its been since the week ending Oct. 28, when the rate was 6.9%

The average number of people in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 also has continued to decline.

Despite the progress in slowing the pandemic that surged throughout the fall and the arrival of thousands more doses of two COVID-19 vaccines in Illinois this week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other officials remain concerned about the potential for another upswing following Christmas and New Year’s.

In a Christmas Eve text alert, the Illinois Department of Public Health continued encouraging the public to stay home and follow safety precautions:

“With the holidays approaching, remember: You can be social with people in your household, just social distance and mask when in public. Let’s all stay safe together this holiday season and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”