On Thursday, state health officials reported 30 new coronavirus-related deaths, including seven Cook County residents whose ages ranged from their 50s to their 90s.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 2,257 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing statewide totals to 281,371 cases and 8,538 deaths since late January.
Nearly 5.3 million tests have been completed to date, and labs processed more than 62,000 specimens in the 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday, according to state health officials.
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.5%, with Chicago's rolling seven-day positivity rate at 4.5%.
As of Wednesday evening, 1,713 were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those patients, 400 were in intensive care units, and 155 were on ventilators, according to IDPH.
With thousands still becoming infected with the coronavirus daily, health officials are urging Illinoisans to get a flu shot in order to avoid a dangerous co-infection.
“Flu and COVID-19 each can cause serious respiratory illness and co-infection could possibly lead to more severe illnesses, hospitalization, and even death,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a statement. “Please try and protect yourself and the people around you by getting the flu vaccine, which has been proven over the years to be safe and effective. The choice is yours, but I urge you to not risk co-infection of two potentially deadly viruses.”
In addition to the flu vaccine, many of the same measures that protect against the coronavirus — hand washing, social distancing and the wearing of masks — also stem the spread of influenza, health officials said.
While the flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms, including cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, there are some notable differences. The flu comes on suddenly, with the onset of symptoms within two days of exposure, whereas COVID-19 can take as long as 14 days to manifest. The loss of taste or smell is rare with the flu, but more common with COVID-19. Sneezing, which is rare among COVID patients, is sometimes experienced with the flu.