CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 1,598 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest daily total this month so far
Twenty-three more people have died from the virus, and the state's positivity rate has increased to 3.2%, state health officials said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that the state's total confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 165,301, including 7,347 deaths.
"COVID-19 has not gone away and it remains a serious threat," Gov. JB Pritzker said.
Illinois performed 39,633 tests in the past 24 hours, for a total of more than 2.3 million.
"We've seen real progress over these last 4.5 months, but our numbers now appear to be gradually rising and that is very concerning," the governor said.
Gov. Pritzker said the state is hitting testing milestones, with 40,000 daily tests conducted in three of the last seven days. Meanwhile, positivity rates vary in the 11 regions.
The increase is partly due to businesses and individual behavior, according to state health leaders.
"We are seeing an increase in new COVID-19 cases," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "You have probably seen people crowding into bars, areas where people were not wearing masks, or maintaining 6 feet of distance between one another."
"You can go from 3% positivity to Arizona's 23% positivity in the blink of an eye," Pritzker said. "We've been there. Let's not let that happen again."
State leaders again asked residents to follow three basic rules.
"Let's please watch our distance, wear our face coverings and wash our hands," Dr. Ezike said.
At Gov. Pritzker's briefing last week, he revised his Restore Illinois plan. The original plan divided the state into four health regions and was then updated to split the state into 11 regions.
On Wednesday, Governor Pritzker said the Metro East region, which includes counties in southwestern Illinois, is seeing a rise in cases. Pritzker said the increase could result in the state needing to step in to take mitigating actions.
"I have spoken with local leaders and I have asked them to clamp down on the outbreaks where they are occurring so that the state won't have to step in," Pritzker said.
The regions are:
1. North: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago
2. North Central: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford
3. West Central: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott
4. Metro East: Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, Washington
5. Southern: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson
6. East Central: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby, Vermillion
7. South Suburban: Kankakee, Will
8. West Suburban: DuPage, Kane
9. North Suburban: Lake, McHenry
10. Suburban Cook: Suburban Cook
11. Chicago: City of Chicago
Gov. Pritzker said the revised plan has three tiers of mitigation strategies that can be applied if a region sees a spike in cases. The categories for the mitigation strategies include closing or scaling back bars and restaurants, meets, religious services and more.
Pritzker said positivity rates in most regions including the Chicago area were hovering between two and five percent.
Governor Pritzker said the Illinois Department of Public Health is working to award a grant to an organization in nine regions for contract tracing. Cook County and Chicago will utilize their own contact tracing programs.
"Today I'm proud to announce that applications for community-based organizations to obtain funding through IDPH to collaborate with local health departments will open on Friday. This opportunity - called the COVID-19 Pandemic Health Navigator Program - is geared toward organizations able to serve as coordinators for their region, sub-awarding to other agencies, across three main areas of work: education and outreach, contact tracing, and resource coordination for those who need to isolate," said Pritzker said. "Because Chicago and its immediate suburbs are running their own community programs, these partnerships will be with regional leaders outside of Cook County. Most important to our ability to minimize outbreaks is the efforts of everyday people to do their part: if one of our statewide force of 1,600 contact tracers calls you, please answer."