- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois on Wednesday reported a record 238 fatalities related to the coronavirus pandemic, a total that is nearly one-quarter higher than the previous record set during the spring onslaught of the illness.

The deaths were accompanied by 9,757 new cases of COVID-19, the malady caused by coronavirus infection. That was a drop from Tuesday’s newly confirmed cases, but the previous high of 192 deaths came on May 13, a day when there were just 1,677 new cases.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said it’s possible that some of the deaths occurred earlier and that the Thanksgiving holiday delayed reporting. But he noted that such timing makes no difference to grieving families.

“This virus is a killer,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago. “Let’s honor those that it has taken by doing everything that we can to prevent more people from getting sick and dying. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay home whenever you can. We’ll get through this.”

Overall, in nine months of the pandemic, there have been 12,639 deaths among 748,603 infections.

Deaths fell dramatically after the treacherous spring as medical professionals learned more about the new virus and ways to treat it.

But with a fall surge in cases, they began creeping up again in November. While it took 68 days for deaths to increase from 8,000 to 10,000 on Nov. 5, the state recorded 12,000 deaths just 22 days later, according to an Associated Press analysis of Illinois Department of Public Health data.

The seven-day rolling test positivity average, which had hit a high of 13.2% on Nov. 13, had leveled off at just above 10% for several days, but increased to 10.6% Wednesday.

There was a glimmer of good news for hospitals, which are bracing for another sharp increase in illness following the Thanksgiving holiday that prompted interstate travel and gatherings of families from different households. Hospitalizations dipped slightly to 5,764, as did the number of occupied intensive care units (1,190) and those on ventilators (714).


Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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