COVID-19 Update: Illinois reports 1,761 new cases, 11 deaths; IDPH changes how it reports virus data

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 1,761 new COVID cases and 11 related deaths Tuesday as public health officials announced changes to how the state reports data on the virus.

Illinois public health officials note that "daily deaths reported on weekends and at the beginning of the week may be low as IDPH and local health departments move away from reviewing and processing COVID-19 death records over the weekend. Those deaths will be captured in subsequent days."

There have been at least 3,086,665 total COVID cases, including at least 33,489 related deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

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IDPH data shows Illinois has a case rate of 13.7 per 100,000 people across the state, with 26% of ICU beds available. The seven-day average for hospital admissions is 34.

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A total of 21,581,107 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Monday , and 64.53% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 19,632.

While there's been a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, hospitalizations and deaths have remained relatively steady.

Unlike what's happening in Philadelphia and other parts of the country, there has been no discussion within the Illinois Dept. of Public Health about a return to a mask mandate.

"That is not something we are talking about at this time," said Dr. Amaal Tokars, acting director of IDPH. "However, I would never say that nothing is possible. We are going to do what we think is wisest and best based on the current circumstances that we see."

IDPH also announced changes Tuesday in the way it reports COVID-19 data to be in line with federal guidelines.

Some familiar metrics, including test positivity and case positivity rates, will no longer be reported. It's partly because labs no longer have to report negative antigen tests, and also because of the widespread use of home tests impacting test data.

And so in line with federal guidelines, three main metrics will be used to assess community transmission:

1) New COVID cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days

2) New hospital admissions per 100,000 in the past 7 days
3) Percentage of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients

Based on those metrics, officials would recommend increased vaccination for a community in the low transmission category. A medium transmission category would prompt a mask recommendation for seniors and people with underlying conditions. And if a community is in high transmission, masking will be recommended for everyone in indoor public spaces.

"The CDC is actually moving away from just looking at COVID as a weather report, so to speak, and looking at it more in terms of how does it really impact our hospital systems," said IDPH's Dr. Arti Barnes.

Other than a few southern counties, officials said the vast majority of Illinois is in low transmission.
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