BREAKING NEWS: Illinois covid numbers, while still high, are on the decline, prompting speculation as to whether the statewide mask mandate could be removed in the coming months if numbers continue to fall.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 20,483 new confirmed and probable cases of covid-19 reported in the last 24 hours statewide, with 36 new deaths. The state is averaging 27,795 new cases of covid per day, a 14.4 percent reduction from the high of 32,501 daily cases on Jan. 12, according to IDPH data.

Illinois Covid Numbers Declining; Could Mask Mandate And Restrictions Be Removed Soon?

Illinois covid numbers have started to decline from their mid-January peak a week ago.

The state’s positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 12.2 percent, while the positivity rate on individuals tested is now at 15.4 percent.

Hospitalizations have also begun to decline from their record highs last week. According to the latest data, there are 6,695 covid-positive patients currently in Illinois hospitals, representing a decline of almost 10 percent from the state’s peak of 7,380 hospitalizations on Jan. 13. The total number of ICU patients with covid now stands at 1,120, down 4.8 percent from the high also set on Jan. 13.

The declining numbers have prompted many to speculate on when restrictions might be pared back for the state and when the mask mandate might be lifted, although Gov. JB Pritzker and other officials have not commented on any particular date, preferring to wait and see how the numbers play out.

Several elementary and high schools statewide have gone back to in-person learning, but colleges have been slow to do so.

Illinois Covid Numbers Declining; Could Mask Mandate And Restrictions Be Removed Soon?

Illinois covid numbers, including of the omicron variant, have been soaring over the past month but they’re starting to plateau. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Public Health)

Several colleges across the state announced they’ll be going to remote learning at least to begin the next semester in January. Northwestern, DePaul and University of Chicago in Cook County will all begin as remote learning, as will University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign in downstate Champaign and Illinois State University. In addition, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has told students, faculty and staff that they must test negative for covid-19 within 48 hours of returning to campus, including those who have been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated will have to continue to be tested weekly.

Schools in several major cities around the country including Atlanta and Detroit have also opted to go to remote learning, as many educational systems nationwide decide to shut down in-person instruction amidst record covid numbers.

Illinois Covid Numbers Declining; Could Mask Mandate And Restrictions Be Removed Soon?

Omicron is making up 73 percent of the new cases of covid-19 nationwide.

Statewide there are no plans to reinstate online learning as the decision is typically made at a school district level, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

For ongoing coverage of this situation, continue to follow QuadCities.com.

Illinois Covid Numbers Declining; Could Mask Mandate And Restrictions Be Removed Soon?
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
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