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SPRINGFIELD — The number of COVID-19-related deaths and the single-day test positivity rate spiked Tuesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced an abnormally small number of tests results over the previous 24 hours.

The health department reported 39 deaths related to the virus, the highest single-day total since June 26. The rolling seven-day average positivity rate increased to 4.3 percent as the state reported 1,492 new confirmed cases among 22,961 test results reported in the previous 24 hours.

The testing output was the lowest reported in one day since July 6. Because of the low testing output, the single-day virus positivity rate was 6.5 percent, which is the highest one-day rate since June 2.

Meanwhile, the Shelby County Health Department reported Tuesday that nine additional county residents have tested positive for COVID-19: a 64-year-old female; a 20-year-old female; a 59-year-old female; a 52-year-old female; a 25-year-old female; a 75-year-old female; and a 64-year-old female. All are presenting mild symptoms. A 38-year-old female is showing moderate symptoms and a 19-year-old female is asymptomatic.

For the week ending Aug. 22, Shelby County’s positivity rate was at 9.3%, with weekly positives rate per 100,000 population exceeding 50 per 100K to 193 per 100K. Shelby County has been designated by IDPH at Warning level for coronavirus disease – one of 30 counties in Illinois, including Effingham County, so designated. A county enters into a “WARNING LEVEL” when two or more risk indicators for COVID-19 exceed the targeted indicators.

In response to questions regarding the low testing output across the state, an IDPH spokesperson said, “We reached the maximum capacity of our system and currently are in the process of expanding this. That work is underway now.”

“Reporting test results is working, but it is currently slow and backlogged due to the large volume of testing data that we have processed since the beginning of the pandemic,” the spokesperson said in a follow-up response to Shaw Media, adding the department is working to “eliminate the testing data backlog."

The spokesperson added the delay in data reporting “does not delay a person getting their test results.”

Prior to Tuesday’s output, the state had reported between 30,000 and 52,000 test results each day for the past 28 days, for an average of 44,905 per day over that span.

The 39 deaths reported Tuesday drove the total to 8,064 among 236,515 confirmed cases since the pandemic first reached Illinois.

Meanwhile, Region 4, which includes the Metro East area on the Missouri border, saw its positivity rate decline from 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent as of Saturday, according to the IDPH website. That is not a big enough decrease to offset the need for further mitigation measures from the state.

The governor’s office has said new mitigation measures — including closure of indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars — could take effect as early as Wednesday.

In Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee Counties, the positivity rate remained at 8.8 percent for the second straight day Saturday, which was four days after new mitigations took effect.

Those mitigations, effective since Wednesday, Aug. 26, include closure of restaurants and bars for indoor consumption.

Hospitalization numbers remain slightly above their pandemic lows as well. At the end of Monday, 1,513 people in Illinois were reported hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 362 were in an intensive care unit and 146 were on ventilators.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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