Area COVID cases hit six-week low

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District data shows the total number of COVID-19 cases for six villages The Sentinel covers is now down to 66, a six-week low. The county's seven-day rolling positivity, excluding University of Illinois testing is a mere 6.1% and our region is down to 9% as of December 23.

On November 15 the area's active cases nearly doubled going from 69 to 110 after tests confirmed 41 new cases. The bulk of the surge came from households in Tolono and St. Joseph. The number of confirmed cases peaked at 142 on November 22, two days after Illinois was mandated to Tier 3 guidelines.

Despite the declining number of cases in Region 6 and 20% or better availability of ICU beds, Governor J.B. Pritzker has made it clear that he has no plans in the near future to relax restriction for our region and Region 1, which have met the criteria to roll back to Tier 2 mitigation.

"Since the surge hit us, it’s been important for us to get the right trajectory of cases, and hospitalizations and ICU use, and to make sure that we get to the right level," Pritzker said during his press conference a week ago Christmas day. "Remember, there are still many hospitals around the state, that have limited ability to take in new ICU patients, or even new hospitalizations. And so we’re trying very hard to bring it down all across the state before we start to relieve the regions from Tier 3 to Tier 2."

Rather than "yo-yo" in out of stricter mitigation measures, the Governor said he is taking a wait-and-see approach for a week or two after the holiday period.

Illinois reported 3,293 new and probable cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the statewide total since the beginning of the pandemic to 934,142. The state also reported 66 new deaths, raising the overall toll to 15,865.

Illinois' case total is now at the lowest since Oct. 19, when 3,113 cases were reported. And on Thursday, the state's seven-day average for coronavirus deaths fell to 116, its lowest point since December 2.