Health officials are growing increasingly concerned as Illinois nears six-month highs in coronavirus hospitalizations.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 4,409 patients are currently hospitalized statewide due to coronavirus or COVID-19-like illnesses. Of those patients, 857 are currently in intensive care units as a result of the virus.
Those numbers represent a steady increase that the state has seen since the beginning of October, and are beginning to near the record highs that the state saw in late April and early May.
The 4,409 current hospitalizations are the most the state has seen since May 13, according to IDPH data. The high watermark for hospitalizations during the pandemic came on April 28, when 5,037 patients were in hospitals due to the virus.
The 857 patients in intensive care units are the most the state has recorded since May 31. The record-high in that category came on April 28, when 1,290 patients were in ICU’s.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the IDPH, calls the increasing hospitalization rate a “significant problem,” and warned that the state could be forced to engage in some drastic action to ensure access to hospital beds for all those patients that need them.
“We’re going to have to come up with some creative solutions to make sure that everyone has a bed, whether it’s for COVID, or whether it’s for a flu-like illness or a car accident, or for a heart attack. It’s a very imminent issue,” she said.
Ezike says that it’s critical for state residents to continue to wear masks, wash their hands and to socially distance, saying that those mitigation measures are the most effective for residents as a vaccine likely remains months away from widespread distribution.
“We still need to work on the front end to try to limit the number of people who get sick and who get infected in the first place so that we can slow down that need for hospitalization,” she said.
Hospitalization numbers regularly lag behind increasing case numbers, and Illinois is seeing that take place. Case numbers began to spike in mid-October, along with a drastic increase in positivity rates, and hospitalizations weren’t far behind, as the number of residents who have been hospitalized because of the virus has nearly tripled since Oct. 1.