FILE - DMV, Illinois, driver services, Virus Outbreak Illinois

People wear masks as they line up to enter the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles in Schaumburg, Ill., Thursday, June 11, 2020.

(The Center Square) – A new analysis ranked Illinois near the bottom of all states in terms of health improvements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The website WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 11 metrics that reflect the COVID-19 death rate, positive test rates and transmission number, which is an estimate of the average number of people to whom an infected person will transmit the virus.

WalletHub's analysis placed Illinois 40th on the list. WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said two categories hurt Illinois in the rankings.

“When it comes to its death rate and its positive testing rate, it is still pretty high,” Gonzalez said. “That is part of the reason why it ranks so low here.”

There are a lot of COVID-19 metrics and different ways to look at those metrics. The website uses White House guidelines to track how states progress toward the "reduction in symptoms and cases, health system readiness, and increased testing."

Using different measurements, the website labels Illinois as one of only five states that is trending in the right direction with fewer positive cases and deaths from COVID-19. As of Friday, the website listed most states in the country as "trending poorly."

Some Republican governors have been criticized for opening up their state’s economies too soon, but Wallethub's Gonzalez said the difference between red and blue states in terms of its health improvement analysis was minuscule.

“Blue states are ranked 25.76 on average while red states rank 26.17, so essentially they are both 26,” said Gonzalez. Illinois had a score of 22.15 based on Wallethub's metrics.

Two neighboring states that reopened their economies before Illinois – Missouri and Wisconsin – scored much higher than Illinois in Wallethub's analysis. 

Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont have seen the biggest improvements in health during the pandemic, while Arizona, New Hampshire and North Dakota have seen the least, according to WalletHub.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.