COVID-19 deaths in Illinois reach 15K; nearly 887K cases

December 18, 2020 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Deaths in Illinois from the coronavirus illness topped 15,000 on Friday, public health officials said.

The state passed the grim milestone with the addition of 181 fatalities, the same as the day before, and the sixth-highest total since the pandemic struck Illinois in February.

The slow process of inoculating the population against COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, got underway this week. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced at his daily briefing on the pandemic that the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine approved by the federal government has been administered to 17,000 health care workers in Illinois.


Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Department of Public Health, reported 7,377 newly confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Deaths now total 15,015 out of 886,805 cases.

Daily deaths have topped 100 for all but two days in December, the tragic aftermath of a treacherous November that produced more than 300,000 new cases, an average of nearly 10,300 per day.

But officials also expected an even greater surge of cases during the holiday season. Newly confirmed infections have exceeded 10,000 on only four days in December, and just once in the past two weeks.

However, December’s daily average of 8,916 fresh COVID-19 cases is still the highest average of any month except November.

There were 4,690 people hospitalized Friday and 1,023 in intensive care units, both numbers declining again for at least four consecutive days. Ventilator usage went up by 10, however, to 585.