CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois has once again set new records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as new infections continue to surge statewide.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 44,089 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, by far the most reported in a single day. The previous record was the 32,279 new cases reported on Wednesday. It's the fourth time in the past eight days Illinois has set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections.
Illinois is averaging 27,141 new cases per day over the past week, a 280% increase over the past month.
The state also set another new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 7,098 people being treated fro COVID-19 at Illinois hospitals as of Wednesday night. It's the first time Illinois has surpassed 7,000 hospitalizations, and the fourth day in a row the state has set a new record for hospitalizations.
Illinois also reported 104 new deaths today, the first time the state has seen 100 deaths or more in a day in nearly 11 months. Illinois is now averaging 63 deaths per day over the past week, up 91% over the past month.
The statewide average case positivity rate is up to 14.7%, higher than at any point during the fall surge of 2020, when the rate reached as high as 13.7%. The state's infection rate peaked at 24.2% during the early days of the pandemic on April 6, 2020.
Meantime, IDPH announced two new COVID-19 antiviral pills will be available in Illinois later this month: Paxlovid from Pfizer, and Molnupiravir from Merck. Both pills will be available by prescription only for people with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, who are at high risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death.
"These new oral antivirals add new tools to our toolbox to keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "While vaccination, including boosters, is still the best way to avoid infection and prevent severe illness from COVID-19, these new antivirals given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration can help treat those who get infected and have a higher risk of becoming severely ill."
IDPH said it is working with pharmacies statewide to offer both antiviral drugs, which are being provided for free by the federal government. Illinois will receive a limited supply of the pills every two weeks, and will provide a list of available locations once participating pharmacies are finalized.
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