Illinois COVID-19: IL reports 2,862 new coronavirus cases, 49 deaths; officials outline holiday gathering tips

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials announced 2,862 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, along with 49 additional deaths as they also outlined safety tips for holiday gatherings.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 327,605 with 9,074 deaths, the IDPH reported. The single day death toll is the highest since 63 were reported on June 24.

As of Tuesday night, 1,974 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 390 patients in the ICU and 153 on ventilators.

Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 52,669 specimens for a total of 6,463,923. The seven-day positivity rate from Oct. 7 to 13 is 4.6%.

After holding steady for a few weeks, the positivity test rate for COVID-19 infections in Illinois is once again on the rise. It was 3.3% on Oct. 5, 3.4% on Oct. 5-6, 3.5% on Oct. 7, 3.7% Thursday, 3.8% Friday, 4% Saturday, 4.2% on Sunday, 4.3% on Monday and 4.5% on Tuesday.

The 4.6% positivity rate is the highest since it was 5.1% on June 8.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the positivity rates are rising in all 11 regions, with Region 1, which includes Rockford and Galena, seeing rates above 10%. Region 5 in southern Illinois has also seen its rate rise above 8% and could have mitigations put in place if that rate continues to be above the 8% threshold.

Meanwhile, IDPH has provided recommendations for how to celebrate safely with family and friends over the upcoming holidays.

COVID-19 spikes have been seen from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July and last month at Labor Day.

"COVID-19 has changed the way we work, live and play, and will now change how we plan to celebrate the holidays," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health director. "While the safest way to celebrate is with members of your household and connecting with others virtually, we know, for many, the holidays are all about family and friends, so we want to provide some tips on how to celebrate safer."

Recommendations include wearing face coverings, particularly when traveling, limiting the number of guests and having activities outside if possible.

Homeowners have been clamoring for patio heaters for weeks, and at Gordon's Ace Hardware in Bridgeport sales are at least 10 times what they are in a normal season.

"If we had them in stock, we could sell hundreds right now without a problem. We're getting calls every day. Do you have them in stock? Both for the table top and for the tall, the tall deck heaters," said Jeremy Melnick, co-owner.

It's the same with propane tanks and firewood, and gas fire pits are also selling fast.

"People want to try to extend the season the best they can, so they're looking for anything that will provide any heat as the weather has gotten cold," he said.

If you can't hold your holidays outdoors, open windows to aid in ventilation. Also, it is recommended to limit activities in the two weeks prior to gatherings.

Let people know ahead of time that we're going to be using masks, bring your masks, because if you're not eating or drinking, just to keep everybody safe, that's the best way to go forward," Ezike said. "We have too many personal celebrations that have ended in tragedy, where people have gotten sick."

For seating arrangements, officials say to keep members of the same household together and putting space between each family.

Visit www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/holiday-season-safety-tips for the full list of safety tips.

"This virus isn't taking a holiday. It only wants to find new hosts," Pritzker said. "The safest thing you can do, simply is to take precautions. Dr. Ngozi Ezike and I want to be with our families and friends during this holiday season, too. We're all human beings, and we all want to see and spend time with our loved ones. We spent the better part of the year working for you. So today, IDPH is releasing guidance and recommendations from medical experts on how to have Thanksgiving and other holidays safely."

Pritzker held his first in-person briefing Wednesday in weeks, after quarantining when a staffer tested positive for COVID-19.

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Governor JB Pritzker gives an update on COVID-19 as officials issue guidance on holiday gatherings.



The governor sounded the alarm that the fight against the virus in Illinois is headed in the wrong direction.

"Our positivity rate has grown by more than one full percentage point in the last week alone. And in most regions, COVID-like hospital admissions have increased in the same period of time," Pritzker said.

That's a blow for the state, which, he said, is doing relatively better than its neighbors.

The deaths reported Wednesday include:
-Adams County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
-Christian County: 1 male 60s

-Coles County: 1 male 80s
-Cook County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 3 males 90s
-DeKalb County: 1 female 60s
-DuPage County: 2 females 80s
-Ford County: 1 female 80s
-Franklin County: 1 female 100+
-Jefferson County: 1 male 70s
-Jersey County: 1 female 90s
-Jo Daviess County: 1 female 90s
-Kane County: 1 male 80s
-Knox County: 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s
-Logan County: 2 male 80s

-Madison County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s
-Marion County: 1 male 80s
-Marshall County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
-Peoria County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
-Randolph County: 1 male 80s
-Rock Island County: 2 males 60s
-Sangamon County: 1 male 50s, 2 males 70s
-St. Clair County: 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
-Vermilion County: 1 male 80s
-Will County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 female 90s
-Winnebago County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
-Woodford County: 1 female 60s
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