- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 10, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois set another single-day record for coronavirus infections Tuesday, pushing the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the state since the pandemic began past 500,000.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker presented statistics to show that hospitalizations are nearing their spring peak, when the initial wave of infections had officials scrambling for hospital beds and professionals to tend them.

State public health officials reported 12,623 newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, nearly 15% higher than the previous record set Saturday, when cases also topped 12,000.

In Chicago, officials reported a daily average of 1,686 new cases, roughly four times higher than a month ago. “There are no signs of slowing,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

Hospitalizations jumped 7.5% in one day to 4,742. The seven-day average of 4,207 in hospital beds is creeping toward the 4,822 average hit on May 5. The health care professionals who are caring for COVID-19 patients are bearing an unsustainable burden, Pritzker said.

“It’s a difficult time for them. They’re doing amazing work. But we must not let them become overrun,” Pritzker said.

“They have a message for everyone listening: They implore you to make sure that everyone wears a mask and stops gathering with a large number of people in your homes. They need your help.”

The geography of the problem has shifted. While Chicago produced the largest share of COVID-19 cases in the spring, other areas of Illinois are seeing the surge now.

Though the numbers are increasing in Chicago, the city and the three COVID-19 monitoring regions surrounding it are under their spring numbers for hospitalizations. The seven remaining regions in northern, central and southern Illinois have in-patient numbers as high as 3 1/2 times what they were in late April and early May.

Deaths Tuesday numbered 79. Illinois has seen an average of 59 deaths per day in the past week, compared with 45 deaths daily in the seven days prior to that.

Overall, the virus has claimed 10,289 Illinois lives amid 511,183 cases.

Chicago officials rolled out an updated travel order, organizing states into three threat levels but advising against all travel to nearly every state. Arwady said Chicago is seeing increases in cases across all ages and ethnicity groups, though Latinos remain most disproportionately affected.

“Now is not the time to be traveling. Now is not the time to be gathering,” Arwady said. “It is not the time to have people into your home who do not already live there.”

To comply with the travel order, visitors to the city must quarantine for two weeks with few exceptions. The order also applies to Chicago residents returning from a visit to a designated state. Those violating the order could face hefty fines.

Thirteen states, including Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana are at the highest level.

Illinois hit another pandemic milestone Tuesday, this one welcomed. The state processed for the first time more than 100,000 tests for the virus in 24 hours. Pritzker and medical officials say that testing - and tracing people who have had contact with those who test positive for COVID-19 - are key to containing the outbreak.


Tareen reported from Chicago.


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

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