Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » 2,273 new cases, 35 additional deaths, 1,632 in hospitals, 3.6 percent positivity rate, IDPH issues Halloween guidance
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2,273 new cases, 35 additional deaths, 1,632 in hospitals, 3.6 percent positivity rate, IDPH issues Halloween guidance

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 2,273 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 35 additional confirmed deaths.

    Bureau County: 1 female 80s
    Carroll County: 1 male 70s
    Champaign County: 1 female 80s
    Cook County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 100+
    DeKalb County: 1 male 90s
    DuPage County: 1 female 80s
    Effingham County: 1 female 70s
    Fayette County: 1 female 70s, 2 females 80
    Greene County: 2 females 70s
    Grundy County: 1 male 80s
    Jackson County: 1 female 60s
    Jersey County: 2 female 90s
    Lake County: 1 male 70s
    Lawrence County: 1 male 70s
    Macon County: 1 female 80s
    Madison County: 2 males 80s
    Peoria County: 1 male 80s
    St. Clair County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s
    Tazewell County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
    Will County: 1 female 70s, 2 males 70s
    Williamson County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s
    Woodford County: 1 male 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 293,274 cases, including 8,672 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 23 – September 29 is 3.6%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 58,546 specimens for a total of 5,624,822. As of last night, 1,632 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 378 patients were in the ICU and 152 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

IDPH has been closely monitoring the Region 6 data. As has been noted, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is performing repeated saliva testing for staff and students. This is resulting in a tremendous number of tests, which can average up to 20% of all tests done in the state during some weeks. Because of this high volume, the positivity rate for Region 6 could be overshadowed by what is happening at UIUC. Therefore, in addition to providing data for Region 6, IDPH is now presenting data for Region 6 without Champaign County. However, Champaign County will still be required to implement mitigation efforts if regional metrics are tripped in Region 6.

In doing this, IDPH has found that Region 6, with Champaign County included, is seeing a 2.0% 7-day rolling test positivity average. Without Champaign County, Region 6 is seeing a 7.2%, which puts the region at risk for needing to implement additional mitigation measures, including no indoor bar service or dinning at restaurants, and limiting the size of event gatherings. IDPH is encouraging local leaders and communities in Region 6 to begin taking action now to reduce the test positivity rate, which includes making sure people are wearing masks in public, maintaining social distance, and not gathering in large groups.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting separately both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. IDPH will update these data once a week.

*All data are provisional and will change. In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time. Information is constantly being entered into an electronic system and the number of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email

* Press release…

As we head into the holiday season, starting with Halloween, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is issuing guidance to help people celebrate safely as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines include following the 3 W’s – Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wear your mask.

“One of the hallmarks of holidays and celebrations is gathering with friends, family and loved ones,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are still in a pandemic, and unfortunately, this year, that means the safest way to celebrate is to stay home and plan virtual gatherings. That said, IDPH recognizes that some who will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person. Remember, we know what our best tools are: wearing our masks, keeping our distance, limiting event sizes, washing your hands, and looking out for public health and each other.”

If you think you could have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, do not participate in any in-person Halloween activities.

    - Anyone participating in trick-or-treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain 6-feet of social distance and wear proper face coverings.
    - Consider leaving individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) on a table in driveways or in front of walkways, sidewalks, or any outdoor space where 6-feet of distance can be maintained.
    - A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Ensure that breathing is not impaired if a cloth mask is worn under a costume mask. If so, discard the costume mask.
    - Trick-or-treat in groups with household members only.
    - Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be eaten until after handwashing.

An alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is to set up in a large parking lot or other outdoor setting with tables with individually wrapped candy (spaced apart) where participants with a parent/guardian can parade past while still keeping 6-feet of distance and wearing a face covering. It’s suggested to offer reserved time slots to limit everyone showing up at once.
Haunted Houses

    - Halloween haunted houses currently are not allowed in Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines.
    - Consider open-air, one-way haunted forests or haunted walks where 6-feet of distance can be maintained and face coverings are used.

Adult costume parties, social gatherings, Halloween parties at bars

    - Gatherings of more than 50 people or 50% or more of a building’s maximum occupancy are prohibited. (Lower limits may apply for regions in additional mitigation.)
    - The more time you spend at a gathering, the closer the contact, the more people, the higher your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    - Follow small social gathering safety tips from IDPH.
    Pumpkin patches and orchards
    - Cloth face coverings and social distancing should be enforced.
    - Use hand sanitizer before handling pumpkins, apples, and other produce.
    - Hayrides should not exceed 50% capacity with parties spaced at least six feet apart.
    - Wear face coverings at all times when around people not from your household.

After participating in any of the above activities, if you think that you may have been exposed during your celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to help protect others. You should:

    • Stay home as much as possible.
    • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
    • Consider getting tested for COVID-19.

…Adding… The revelation that the state is not using UIUC data has been brought up in comments. In addition to what was mentioned above, there’s also this

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s saliva-based COVID-19 test has never operated under emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, despite prior claims that it did, an FDA spokesperson tells Illinois Newsroom. […]

But in response to questions from Illinois Newsroom about the EUA status of U of I’s saliva test, an FDA spokesperson said in an email: “The University of Illinois is not authorized under an umbrella EUA, and they have not had an EUA.”

In an emailed statement, Robin Kaler, a spokesperson for the U of I’s Urbana campus, says faculty and staff relied on an Aug. 5 email from the FDA stating that the campus could perform a “bridging study” — comparing the efficacy of its own saliva test to one that has been authorized by the FDA.

Kaler says the university compared its saliva test to one created at Yale University, which received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Aug. 15. After the bridging study was completed, the university’s regulatory and compliance consultant advised faculty and administrators that they could claim that the university’s COVID-19 test was operating under the umbrella of the test created by Yale University.

Kaler says the FDA reached out to the U of I via phone this month and asked the university to discontinue using the terms “bridging study” and “umbrella.” At that point, the university updated its language to remove references to its test operating under the umbrella of an FDA EUA test.


  1. - ajjacksson - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:44 pm:

    Why is the UIUC data being excluded? That data is a far better measure of what’s really going on. The positivity rate clearly does not have a random sample of the population, so the rate does not necessarily reflect the rate of infection for the population. On the other hand, U of I is testing their entire population, so their data clearly reflects the infection rate.

    The positivity rate is not the infection rate. I don’t understand why the metrics are based on the positivity rate. It merely tells us what percent of the tested are infected, and not what percent of the population. Those two values are not the same, and not necessarily correlated.

  2. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    Oh good. Guidance came out today.

    I’m sure that will be helpful for the dozens of towns near me that already announced and voted to go ahead with trick or treating as is everything is normal.

    I know the IDPH has a lot on its plate, but they are not getting the gears to turn correctly on handling the details of public policy in this regard. Enforcement has also been non-existent in all of the worst offending areas.

    Quite frankly, going out to eat anywhere after this is eventually over is becoming less appealing by the day. If the oversight agency in charge of health is doing no enforcement in a pandemic, my trust in them to do it any other time is being diminished.

  3. - Commisar Gritty - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:56 pm:

    I see your point AJ, but I think the reason they’re going with this is that the positivity rate isn’t specifically tied to a small geography. If you use U of I’s data, you might get a better idea of unibfected vs infected, but it is only for that one specific cluster of people. Positivity rates allow you to paint a picture more as it applies to the rest of the state.

    I’d say there are arguments for both models. I don’t think anyone is claiming this one is perfect.

  4. - ajjacksson - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    CG, thanks for your response. But I really don’t understand why the positivity rate is as important as we are making it. Wouldn’t it be much better to have an idea of what percent of the entire population is infected, rather than the idea of what percentage of us non-random sample he’s testing positive? South Dakota has a high positivity rate. Couldn’t be that they are just giving fewer tests, and giving it to people that they highly suspect are infected? As opposed to some other state where they have more tests and are giving the test to anybody they have a slight suspicion is infected?

    This is not a snarky question. I don’t understand why the positivity rate is being used as our standard. I don’t think it’s necessarily in reflection of what percentage of our entire population is in fact infected. In that case, why is it the standard being used for major policy decisions?

  5. - ajjacksson - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:21 pm:

    “If the U of I rate is lower than the Region 4 rate, we will exclude it so we can justify increasing restrictions. If the U of I rate is higher than the Region 4 rate, we will include it so we can justify increasing restrictions.”

    That’s what the IDPH is saying. So just tell us you want to increase restrictions. Don’t tell us it’s based on science though–this is “manipulated” science.

  6. - thoughts matter - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:55 pm:

    Our itty bitty school district of less than 600 total students just sent notification of two students testing positive. In person learning, entire district in one complex.

  7. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 2:00 pm:

    @AJ -

    I have been warning that positivity rate is not a reliable measure of infection for a long while, hopefully others will listen now.

    Positivity rate mere tells you if you are getting a large enough sample of tests. If the positivity rate is above 5 percent, according to the World Health Organization, it means you are not getting enough people tested. You are under-sampling.

    The UIUC example raises one way that positivity rates can be misleading: over-sampling. Testing a relatively healthy subset of folks over-and over again creates an artificially low positivity rate. Artificial because it can mask positive tests in the rest of the population. It’s like polling for a candidate and calling the candidate’s family ten times.

    UIUC is not the only group being over-sampled right now. Nursing home, hospital, and key employers like Abbott are likely doing routine testing of employees, and that can skew positivity rates in those localities.

    The other obvious problem with relying solely on positivity rates is under-sampling, and it is my great fear that is widespread. There is undoubtedly a disparity in access to testing for Black and Hispanic Americans, leading to their undersampling in the overall geographic numbers.

    For example, Lake County is about 20 percent African-American or Latino. You could have a 10 percent positivity rate in testing of people of color and a 2 percent positivity rate among Whites, but if Whites are twice as likely as Blacks or Latinos to have access to testing, it looks like a 4 percent positivity rate overall.

    Positivity rates should be reported with cross tabs by race.

    As VP Trump noted, 1 in 1000 Black Americans has been killed by the coronavirus.

  8. - thoughts matter - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 2:00 pm:

    Regarding the U if I, they are testing the same people over and over. People who are spending most of their time together and are therefore mainly exposed to each other. The chances of a low positivity rate from one week to the next is greater in that situation. The rest of us are being exposed to a greater number of unique individuals as we go about our days and nights. Higher chance of running into people that have it.

  9. - Jibba - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 2:03 pm:

    Ajjacksson, perhaps you might give the responses to your questions a little more thought before dismissing them. All methods have problems. We will never know the total number of infected people because some or many are asymptomatic or untested, so known infection rates or death rates will always be overestimations (i.e., wrong), sometimes vastly. The positivity rate is an actual known value, which gives it more credence, even if it is not the same as the infection rate. And regarding your thoughts about adding restrictions, the authorities are using the method that is most protective of public health. But I doubt that makes you feel better.

  10. - SeamusSays - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    Ajjackson, I think that public health departments are using positivity rates in testing as an imperfect way of whether there’s uncontrolled community spread occurring beyond the ability to contain it through contact tracing and isolation/quarantining for contacts IDed through contact tracing, as there generally isn’t enough testing capacity, except at UIUC with their self-developed saliva testing, to test everyone in IL or a region on a frequent enough basis to catch active cases.

  11. - Fool on the Hill - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 2:20 pm:

    I agree with ajjacksson. Positivity Rate isn’t the best metric to manage policy during the covid crisis. My guess is that it was the only metric available at the beginning of the crisis when testing wasn’t widely available and sample sizes were small. Now that Covid has spread pretty much everywhere, we need better metrics that expresses infection rate relative to population.

  12. - Chatham Resident - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 2:58 pm:

    Should Sangamon County be treated the same way for Region 3 as Champaign County is for Region 6? Due to UIS’s on-campus testing and the possibility it’s some of the new UIUC tests.

    Would be interesting to see the numbers for Region 3 excluding Sangamon County and whether or not that would put the rest of the region’s positivity rate above 8%. And thus subject to mitigations too.

  13. - Jibba - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 3:29 pm:

    Calls for “something else” are lacking in knowledge of just what that something would be. Knowing the actual infection rate would be similar to polling. Need to get a statistically significant sample size of people tested, preferably stratified by age, gender, etc. It must exclude those wanting testing due to having symptoms. And it would need to be repeated regularly, since it is a snapshot in time. Still want that? This is why other imperfect measures are used.

  14. - Mama - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 5:15 pm:

    ==The positivity rate is not the infection rate. I don’t understand why the metrics are based on the positivity rate. It merely tells us what percent of the tested are infected, and not what percent of the population. Those two values are not the same, and not necessarily correlated.==

    Some of the people who have not been tested are positive. One can only use the known facts.

  15. - striketoo - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 5:30 pm:

    The Chicago Metropolitan Area with 69% of the state’s population now has only 28% of the Covid deaths. Downstate is doing things wrong.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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