As the omicron COVID variant continues to pop-up across the country with 6 states confirming identified cases, Illinois nearly set a record Thursday — reporting more than 11,000 new confirmed and probable COVID cases.
Note that Illinois has not confirmed any cases of the omicron variant.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s COVID data tracker, the state reported 11,524 new, confirmed and probable cases of COVID Thursday.
That's an increase from just over 6,000 cases reported the day prior — and the most the state had seen in a single day since Dec. 1, 2020, when 12,542 new cases of the virus were reported.
An IDPH spokesperson says that the new case numbers could potentially be linked to holiday gatherings and travel.
“Thanksgiving was one week ago, and we are starting to see cases associated with family gatherings and travel.”
In the last 24 hours, the state also reported a staggering 231,876 new tests results from laboratories, the most ever entered into the data portal in a single day.
The more than 231,000 new test results smashed the single-day record, which had been set on Sept. 30 when 180,411 results were returned from state laboratories.
Where in the U.S. has the omicron variant been detected?
As of Dec. 3, the omicron variant, first discovered in South Africa, has been confirmed in 6 US states.
In the US, the first confirmed case was reported Wednesday Dec. 1, in a vaccinated traveler who returned to California after a trip to South Africa.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious-disease expert, made the announcement at the White House.
The infected person was identified as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, developed mild symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 Monday. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco obtained a sample from the patient Tuesday evening and worked feverishly overnight to assemble the genetic sequence.
Thursday, Dec. 2, the first Midwest case of the omicron COVID variant was been confirmed in Minnesota, the state's health department said Thursday, via a specimen from a resident "with recent travel history to New York City."
According to health officials, the person developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and was tested for COVID on Nov. 24. He reported traveling to New York City and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention from Nov. 19-21 at the Javits Center.
The health department said Minnesota epidemiologists will continue to investigate alongside New York City and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thursday, Dec. 2, Colorado confirmed its first case.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the woman recently traveled to Africa has mild symptoms and has been isolated at home. She was fully vaccinated but had yet to receive the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Thursday, Dec. 2, tests showed the omicron variant had infected at least five people in the New York City metropolitan area.
Thursday, Dec. 2, the state of Hawaii confirmed that it detected the omicron variant in a COVID-19 positive case.
The individual is an O‘ahu resident with moderate symptoms who had previously been infected with COVID-19, but was never vaccinated.
Friday, Dec. 3, Nebraska officials confirmed six infections after a traveler returned from Nigeria and apparently infected five members of their household.
The individual returned from Nigeria on Nov. 23 and became symptomatic on Nov. 24, according to a press release from the Public Health Solutions District Health Department.
Where do hospitalizations in Illinois stand?
Hospitalizations and ICU usage among COVID patients also remain high in Illinois, with IDPH saying that 505 COVID patients are currently in intensive care unit beds.
That is the highest number the state has seen since the height of the delta variant-driven surge in cases in mid-September.
On Tuesday, the last date for which there is data, there were 2,458 COVID patients hospitalized across the state, the highest number reported since late January.
Illinois is still under an indoor mask mandate
The latest Illinois COVID-19 guidance requires that all residents where a face covering while inside public places, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday said he doesn't see that changing given the most recent metrics.
"We have an indoor mask requirement in the state of Illinois and so we're not lifting that, especially now," Pritzker said. "When I want to lift [the mandate] is when we start seeing hospitalizations plunge, considering that's a particular problem."
Illinois reinstated its mask mandate in late August, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the time saying the state was "running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds."
ritzker said the masking decision is being evaluated "really every day" by himself and doctors at the Illinois Department of Public Health.
"We look at the numbers, I talk to the doctors at IDPH, especially [IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike], and what we're trying to evaluate is: are the hospitalization numbers, for example, increasing, decreasing, staying the same?" Pritzker said. "We want them to decrease. They're not currently, just to be clear."