The Illinois Department of Public Health now reports a total of 213,721 cases and 7,833 deaths.
The statewide positivity rate for the period of August 13 – August 19 stands at 4.4%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 51,612 specimens for a total of 3,541,183.
Coronavirus testing: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, Chicago area
As of Wednesday night, 1,519 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 357 patients were in the ICU and 124 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
The additional deaths reported Thursday include
– Champaign County: 1 male 50s
– Cook County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 70s, 2 males 90s
– DeWitt County: 1 male 80s
– DuPage County: 1 male 70s
– Jefferson County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 females 90s, 1 male 90s
– Kane County: 1 male 80s
– Lake County: 1 male 60s
– LaSalle County: 1 female 90s
– Madison County: 1 male 90s
– Montgomery County: 1 female 90s
– Morgan County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s
– Peoria County: 1 female 80s
– Perry County: 1 female 80s
– Richland County: 1 male 80s
– Rock Island County: 1 male 90s
– St. Clair County: 1 male 60s
– Whiteside County: 1 male 90s
– Williamson County: 1 female 50s
– Winnebago County: 1 male 70s
On Wednesday, Governor JB Pritzker and announced that state health officials will be using a new groundbreaking saliva-based test developed at the University of Illinois.
The saliva COVID-19 test was created at U of I Urbana Champaign and is now getting emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration under an umbrella approval on the heels of a similar test created by Yale researchers.
“This news puts the University of Illinois and the entire state of Illinois on the cutting edge of testing innovation as a national player,” Governor JB Pritzker said.
RELATED: Coronavirus Illinois: U of I creates new saliva-based COVID-19 test
U of I researchers say it is faster, cheaper and requires significantly less raw materials than traditional testing. The new test can turn results within 3-6 hours, which scientists say is contributing to the drop in positivity rates.
“The faster we can find individuals who are positive and get them isolated, the better,” said Dr. Martin Burke. “If we can do a fast test and we can do it frequently, finally the numbers tip and suggest we can defeat this virus.”
RELATED: Coronavirus testing: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, Chicago area
At just $10 a specimen, tests can be done frequently, giving hope to researchers for widespread use as Illinois cases continue to rise.
“Honestly, it gave me hope. We can go on offense here and figure out a way to innovate our way out of this very difficult situation,” Dr. Burke said.
“We want to be proactive and not be chasing our tail as it spirals out of control,” said Dr. Ngozi Izeke with the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Prevention is always the best plan.”
It’s currently being utilized on the U of I campus where students are returning for the fall semester this week.
“With everything happening right now, it’s always on your mind,” said U of I student Jimmy Kokinis. “It helps you just kind of let go of that worry and focus on the school year and your class, like it’s any other normal school year.”
Once results are complete, they can be accessed on an app that can then be shown at campus events and establishments that require it.
“You need your app to show yellow or green, which means you had a negative test within the past week or two back-to-back negative tests, and if you did test positive you’re actually denied access to every building,” Kokinis said.
The school launched a pilot program over the summer, which officials say drastically lowered U of I’s positivity rate.
Kokinis was one who did test positive during that timeframe, although he says he was asymptomatic.
“The quick results actually allowed me to quarantine myself efficiently and stop any of my roommates from testing positive,” he said.
With FDA approval the goal is to expand the use of the test to other parts of the state, including K-through-12 schools, though officials have no timeline.
As health officials continue to monitor the spread of the virus in the state, they say 14 counties are at a higher risk of COVID-19. According to a map from the state health department, blue counties represent areas where the COVID-19 metrics remain stable, but orange areas are under a warning.
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