As the weather gets colder and the holiday season approaches, the state of Illinois is seeing more new COVID cases per day than it has in nearly 10 months, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
According to the latest IDPH statistics, the state has averaged 4,618 new cases of coronavirus per day over the last seven days. That number represents a staggering 122% increase in daily cases over the last 31 days alone.
The elevated number of new daily COVID cases has now officially moved past the worst of the delta variant-driven surge in cases that the state saw over the summer. At its worst, that surge saw the state averaging 4,440 cases per day in early September.
In fact, the number of new COVID cases per day is the highest it has been since late January, when the coronavirus vaccine was not available to the entire adult population of the state. At that point, the state was seeing a rapid decline in cases after brief spikes following Thanksgiving and Christmas, with more widespread COVID vaccine availability and re-introduced restrictions on restaurants and other businesses taking effect.
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The numbers of new COVID cases are still far below what the state saw during the worst surge of the pandemic, which occurred in the fall of 2020. During that surge, the state was averaging more than 12,000 new cases of COVID per day in the month of November, and hospitalizations, ICU visits, and deaths were all at their all-time highs.
As of Monday, there are 1,958 patients currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state, the highest number recorded since Sept. 22, when more than 2,000 patients were hospitalized.
Of those patients, 365 are currently in intensive care unit beds, with 154 on staffed ventilators, according to IDPH data.
Hospitalizations reached a peak of just over 2,300 earlier in September.
Deaths, however, remain low compared to late-2020 and even early September, during the delta variant's surge.
With COVID cases rapidly on the rise, state health officials are urging residents to be cautious when gathering for upcoming holidays, and are urging residents to either get the COVID vaccine, or to get booster shots, which have now been approved for all adults 18 and older in the United States.
State officials are reminding residents that those individuals vaccinated against the virus are far less likely to become ill, be hospitalized, or to die as a result of COVID. As of Nov. 17, just 0.044% of vaccinated individuals in the state have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those, 981, or 0.013% of the vaccinated population, have died as a result of the virus.
As COVID cases sharply rise in the United States, children are among the groups hardest hit, with cases rising by more than 30% in the last two weeks alone.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, COVID cases among individuals age 17 and younger have risen by 32% in the last two weeks, and Illinois hospitals are reporting similar trends.
“Here in the hospital we’ve been seeing a greater uptick of COVID cases coming to in-patient floors,” Dr. Mike Cappello, vice chair of Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, said. “They have not been as sick, thankfully, but they are requiring some in-patient care and observation, so the numbers have been going up.”
Data from IDPH shows children ages 5-11 make up the majority of youth cases in the state currently, with an average of 660 new cases per day in the last week for that age group as of Monday.
“Across the city and state, we’re definitely seeing a rise in COVID cases across the board, but yes, we’re seeing it in our pediatric (patients) as well,” she said.
In Illinois schools, there are currently 170 confirmed outbreaks of the virus, but most of those outbreaks are confined to five or fewer cases, according to data from IDPH.
While children age 5-to-11 have only recently been allowed to receive COVID vaccine doses, those age 17 and younger have seen remarkable results with the vaccine helping to keep them out of hospitals.
According to the latest data from IDPH, just seven children, a statistically insignificant number from the vaccinated population, have been hospitalized because of COVID. Of those patients, zero have died.