WATCH: Illinois positivity rate decline could be sign mitigations are working, Pritzker says
The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 712,936, with a total of 12,137 deaths.
Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 79,055 specimens. In total there have been 10,368,278 tests specimens tested since the start of the pandemic in Illinois.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Nov. 21 - 27 is 12.2%.
As of Friday night, 5,775 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,211 patients were in the ICU with COVID-19 and 686 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
WATCH: Officials urge virtual Thanksgiving celebrations to prevent virus spread
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is recovering at home after testing positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from his office.
Dart last worked on Nov. 19 and received confirmation that he tested positive for the virus on Nov. 24, the release said.
RELATED: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart tests positive for the coronavirus, recovering at home
Officials in Illinois and across the nation pleaded Americans to limit travel during the Thanksgiving holiday to help prevent the surging coronavirus outbreak from spreading farther and faster.
But millions of people disregarded the warnings and left home this week. Experts fear it will mean even more infections and deaths in the coming weeks at a time when colder weather is forcing people indoors and closer together.
After a quiet summer lulled some into complacency, the virus aggressively returned in October. Illinois marked its 11,000th death on Nov. 18, after recording 1,000 fatalities in just 13 days, then jumped another 1,000 in nine days to 12,000.
That matches the numbers from the pandemic's springtime nadir, when deaths rose from 2,000 to 4000 in 17 days, from April 29 to May 15.
Similarly, the spread of the infection has not slowed. It took the same 17 days for the number of confirmed cases to increase from 500,000 to 700,000. From March 5, which marked the beginning of the period on which new cases have been reported each day, 159 days had elapsed before the 200,000th case was recorded on Aug. 13.
The state doubled that number, hitting 400,000 after 77 days and soared to 600,000 in 19 days.
RELATED: Where to find COVID-19 testing in Chicago area
Testing for the virus is far more available now than in the spring. The 77,000 test results recorded Friday was the first day in nearly three weeks that the total fell below 90,000, a period in which results averaged more than 100,000 a day.
But state health officials have maintained that the increase in testing cannot nearly account for the exponential growth in cases.
The difficult fall has stretched hospitals' capacity and, more importantly, health care staff are running short while there's no borrowing from other states like last spring. The Belleville News-Democrat reported Friday that 87% of staffed hospital beds in the metro east region - the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis - were full.
The number of people hospitalized in Illinois dropped below 6,000 for the first time since Nov. 18, but those who remain are sicker. The 1,215 patients in intensive care units were a 6% increase in those nine days. The most seriously ill - those needing ventilator assistance to breathe - dropped to 698 on Friday, but that was 28% increase from Nov. 18.
But people who have suffered through COVID-19 have a valuable weapon for those fighting the coronavirus now: antibodies. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that the Central Illinois Community Blood Center is collecting plasma from the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients.
The fall surge in the virus has pushed up demand. Memorial Health System says that nearly one-third of the patients in its five central Illinois hospitals has COVID-19.
The coronavirus has extinguished some traditional holiday cheer at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield. There will be no Christmas tree nor any holiday displays inside or outside the building
The Capitol for months has been closed to all but employees and others with permission. Tours were suspended months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lights on the Capitol dome won't be used for the second consecutive year. Engineers have recommended that an observation deck, which is used to anchor the lights, be fortified.
A giant artificial tree usually is placed in the rotunda. Not this year
The deaths reported Saturday include:
- Bureau County: 1 female 80s
- Cook County: 1 female 30s, 3 females 40s, 2 males 40s, 3 males 50s, 6 females 60s, 9 males 60s, 10 females 70s, 10 males 70s, 12 females 80s, 11 males 80s, 5 females 90s, 3 males 90s
- DuPage County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 80s, 2 males 90s
- Greene County: 1 female 60s
- Knox County: 1 male 70s
- Lake County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
- Macoupin County: 1 male 70s
- Madison County: 2 females 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 females 90s, 2 males 90s
- Ogle County: 1 female 90s
- Peoria County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s
- St. Clair County: 1 male 90s
- Stephenson County: 1 male 60s
- Whiteside County: 2 males 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- Will County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 70s
- Williamson County: 1 male 80s
The Associated Press contributed to this report.