As Illinois sees COVID-19 hospitalizations increase 30% in one week, leaders say please no Thanksgiving gatherings


The number of COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals rose 30% in one week, reaching a high of 5,581, as medical workers warned of burnout and officials in the State implored residents to celebrate Thanksgiving at the house without guests on Monday.

New cases of COVID-19 numbered 11,632 and additional deaths from the respiratory disease amounted to 37, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

“Hospitals are about to be overwhelmed,” said IDPH director Ngozi Ezike.

The latest patient count, as of Sunday night, surpassed a peak of 5,037 in late April during Illinois’ first viral outbreak. The seven-day average is 5,268 compared to 4,043 hospitalizations from November 2 to 8.

“The numbers are devastating right now,” said Robert Citronberg, medical attorney for Aurora Health.

“Our health care system cannot absorb the doubling or tripling of these numbers, as could happen if we have many super-spreader events stemming from Thanksgiving,” added Citronberg, executive medical director of infectious diseases and prevention. .

Governor JB Pritzker said the state “remains in close contact with hospitals … to monitor those at risk or short of critical care staff or beds for the next three weeks. But I want to be clear – we cannot create new staff for a hospital filled to the brim. ”

The governor, who owns vacation property in Florida, did not respond to whether he would stay in Illinois for Thanksgiving.

“That’s my hope, but I’ll let you know,” Pritzker said.

The state’s viral test positivity rate is 12.5% ​​based on a seven-day average.

The total number of infections statewide is 585,248 statewide and deaths are 10,779. Illinois’ seven-day average of deaths from COVID-19 is 81 against 57 people per day from November 3 to 9, an increase of almost 42%.

For now, Ezike has urged the people of Illinois not to watch the COVID-19 “movie” unfold but to “write a script that brings us to the end of this pandemic as soon as possible.” We want to see fewer cases, fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths. We can do this by wearing a mask and washing our hands. ”

She asked people to celebrate Thanksgiving with their immediate families and to visit others online. “Let’s not play with a virus that has already robbed us of nearly 11 million people in just eight months. “

State labs processed 90,612 tests in the past 24 hours.

Pritzker said there were no plans to resuscitate a field hospital established this spring at McCormick Place and closed after minimal use. There is a potential overflow site at the former MetroSouth Hospital in Blue Island, he said.

Asked whether the state would order all schools to return to distance learning, Pritzker said the government has no plans to intervene at this time. “School districts are doing their best,” he said, noting that about 60% of students are remote.

Amid the gloom, Pritzker pointed to announcements from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. regarding positive vaccine results.

“We have real hope for a possible widespread distribution by early spring,” he said.

The state is well-equipped with ventilators, with around 91% open, as medical experts have improved treatment for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

However, there are fewer intensive care beds, especially in the suburbs.

In Will and Kankakee counties (Region 7), 20% of intensive care beds were available; in DuPage and Kane counties (Region 8), 35% of intensive care beds were unoccupied; in Lake and McHenry (region 9) and the suburb of Cook (region 10), this number was 30%.

Ruth Colby, CEO of Silver Cross Hospital in Will County, noted that the region’s virus positivity rate was over 18% and more than 60 employees had contracted COVID-19 in the community.

“Anytime someone in the community isn’t wearing a mask or observing other safety precautions, it creates the potential for a healthcare worker to develop COVID-19,” Colby said.

Meanwhile, drivers seeking to renew their licenses and register vehicles will have to postpone in-person visits to the Secretary of State’s facilities from Tuesday. Secretary of State Jesse White announced that offices will close until December 7 due to the increase in the number of cases.

The expiration dates of the driver’s license and state ID card will be extended until June 21, 2021.

Eighteen commercial driver’s license facilities will remain open, including two in Elk Grove Village and West Chicago.

• Katlyn Smith, editor of the Daily Herald, contributed to this report.


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