CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 478 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and nine related deaths Wednesday as the state moves toward a full reopening next week.
For the first time since last March, visitors were able to explore the newly-reopened Chicago Cultural Center, including its signature Tiffany Dome.
The city hopes destinations like this one will help truly bring Chicago back to life this summer.
"The cultural landscape is going to bring our city back. It's our festivals. It's our museums," said Mark Kelly, Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. "You're just going to see the pulse of the city come back as all of these institutions like the cultural center come to life."
Nearby, Navy Pier is already buzzing more than it has in months, seeing about 65% of a normal Memorial Day weekend crowd.
"This is a very positive trend for not just us, but it's probably a good indicator for Chicago and the comeback we're making," said Payal Patel, Navy Pier spokesperson.
Navy Pier is also seeing about 20% more online traffic from out of state than in 2019, pre-pandemic.
"We're hopeful that tourism is on its way back and maybe even stronger than ever," Patel said.
Some are already taking advantage.
"Now that things are slowly opening and prices are still reasonable, we took advantage of it and came up," said Kalie Reams, who was visiting from Chattanooga, Tenn.
And as the city prepares to loosen restrictions even further, public health metrics continue trending in the right direction.
Chicago's average daily cases and hospitalizations both plummeted in the last week. Wednesday's test positivity rate in Illinois was the state's lowest on record.
"I couldn't have dreamed that we would have seen numbers like this even six months ago," said Dr. Sajal Tanna, infectious diseases physician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Tanna called the COVID vaccines a miracle, and was optimistic even as the death rate lags behind other metrics.
"The death number is more a reflection of what the infections that we've seen previously in the pandemic. It's not really reflecting the progress that we've made with the vaccinations," she saiG
Gov. JB Pritzker has said that Illinois remains on track to fully reopen on June 11.
Officials said 67% of Illinois adults have received at least one vaccine dose and nearly 51% are fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday, officials reported 401 new cases, which was the lowest one-day increase in cases since March 25, when 330 were reported.
There have been 1,383,065 total COVID cases, including 22,842 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 35,697 specimens for a total of 24,676,057since the pandemic began.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from May 26 to June 1, is 1.8%, the lowest it has been since it started being reported on Oct. 29.
As of Tuesday night, 1,013 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 278 patients were in the ICU and 150 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
A total of 11,338,305 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Tuesday night. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 41,234 doses. There were 29,322 doses reported administered in Illinois Tuesday.
The deaths reported Wednesday include:
-Cook County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s
-Kane County: 1 male 80s
-McLean County: 1 male 40s
-Rock Island County: 1 female 70s
-Will County: 1 female 80s