Illinois’ COVID-19 positivity rate — the percentage of tests that come back positive for the virus — has been decreasing, but officials still urge caution.
The peak positivity rate, reached on April 4, was 23.6 percent. Over the last 24 hours for May 15, the rate was 9.2 percent, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in his online press conference. The seven-day average of positive tests has also been decreasing and now sits at 12 percent, he said.
While Illinois is bending the curve, the decreasing rate can also be attributed to the increase in testing available in the state, Pritzker said. As of May 15, there are 251 state-run places in the state where people can get tested for free, according to the Illinois Coronavirus Response website.
Testing availability has also been expanded to include all frontline and essential workers — including workers at grocery stores, first responders and nursing home staff — as well as people with compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions, Pritzker said.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike — director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) — reported 2,232 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 130 new deaths May 15, putting the state’s total at 90,369 confirmed cases and 4,058 deaths.
Ezike also stressed the importance of testing pregnant mothers who go to the hospital to deliver. Many signs of labor can mimic or obscure symptoms of COVID-19 which makes symptom-based assessments unreliable, Ezike said.