CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 578 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 12 related deaths Tuesday.
There have been 1,397,667 total COVID cases, including 23,336 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from July 6-13 is at 2.1%. May 30, 2021 was the last time the state's test positivity was that high.
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As COVID-19 cases rise in Illinois, health officials are tracking the trend to a rise in cases downstate, home to Illinois' lowest vaccinations rates.
"We are seeing more cases in places where the vaccination rates are lower and that is concerning," said Dr. Rachel Bernard, medical director, Chicago Department of Public Health.
According to IDPH data, the Southwestern regions of the state are seeing the highest spike. In the span of 30 days, Region 3 climbed from 1% to 5%. Region 4, to almost 8%; and Region 5 seeing a 4-percentage point increase in positivity rates.
"It is beginning but it is not significant enough to overwhelm our hospitals yet, so that is good, but if we continue to follow this path it is possible and something that people should be concerned about," said Shawnna Wrhine, outreach coordination for the Southern Seven Health Department, which covers the seven counties in the southernmost tip of the state.
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Within just a week's time, Southern Seven Health Department saw a 200% increase in COVID cases.
"At this point we are very concerned as to why there is still hesitancy among residents there," Wrhine said.
The Southern Seven is also home to the county with the lowest vaccination rate in Illinois. In Alexander County, only 14 percent of the people who live there are fully vaccinated.
"There is concern that the vaccine is not effective. That the virus is a hoax," Wrhine said.
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With those lower vaccination rates come higher rates of transmission and a greater risk for the more infectious delta variant.
"We are assuming at this point that the delta variant is here. We want residents to be cognizant of that," Wrhine said.
State health officials are now reporting dozens of new cases of the Delta variant, with 236 total cases of the new strain. Infectious disease experts in Chicago are expecting citywide numbers to rise as well.
"Every time there has been a holiday in the following two to three weeks we have seen an increase in numbers and then 2-3 weeks after we see more hospitalizations," said Dr. John Segreti, Rush University Medical Center.
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The delta variant is being blamed for the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, particularly in Arkansas, where doctors worried the surge there could be the deadliest.
"You can't ignore the fact that Arkansas has a low vaccination rate compared to other states," said Dr. Steppe Mette. "And the delta variant is the predominant variant in the state. You put those two together, and you're in for the perfect storm."
The delta variant is also a major concern in neighboring state Missouri, where the CDC said the variant makes up nearly 75% of sequenced new cases. And after several weeks with no states on its travel advisory, Chicago's Department of Public Health announced Arkansas and Missouri have been added back on the list.
"Those cases have gone above the threshold for what we would consider to be at higher risk," Bernard said.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 31.841 specimens for a total of 26,183,998 since the pandemic began.
As of Monday night, 498 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 108 patients were in the ICU and 40 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
A total of 12,851,005 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Monday. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 20,794. There were 25,902 vaccines administered in Illinois Monday.