Illinois residents will be staying inside even longer as the governor extended a stay-at-home order into May, and it appears the state's peak could potentially come weeks later than expected.
Models now predict Illinois may reach a peak between late April and early May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday. Earlier predictions had indicated a peak in early to mid-April.
Gov. Pritzker said that as models have progressed, they've come to look quite different.
"That’s not because those models were bad models," he said. "Instead it’s because their inputs got better as time went on, real-time data came in, and importantly, Illinoisans protected each other by staying home."
While that may mean social distancing and isolating at home will seemingly have to continue for longer, experts have said that a later peak is actually a good thing, noting that the reasoning behind the effort to "flatten the curve" is to keep hospitals operating within their capacity. A later and lower peak means the cases are stretched out over time and don’t overwhelm the healthcare system, officials say - so more people can be treated and recover.
"Pushing the peak further down the line might not sound like good news, but I promise you, it saves lives," Pritzker said Thursday.
At his daily coronavirus press briefing on Monday, Pritzker said without social distancing, Illinois would have exceeded its hospital capacity by more than 25,000 beds on April 6.
Citing data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Pritzker said the state instead reported 3,680 coronavirus hospitalizations on April 6, a total of 4,020 on April 10 and 4,599 hospitalizations on April 19.
When it comes to intensive care unit beds, Pritzker stated hospitals have worked to expand bed capacity in recent weeks. In the beginning of April, coronavirus patients occupied approximately 43% of the state's 2,700 ICU beds, while as of Monday, 1,239 patients had occupied 40% of the state's 3,100 ICU beds, according to state health department data.
As for ventilators, the number of coronavirus patients on ventilators has continued a downward trend since the beginning of April — approximately 29% of hospitalized patients were using ventilators on April 6 compared to 23% as of Monday.
"Had we not established mitigation measures, by now we would have needed thousands more ventilators beyond our existing capacity," Pritzker said Monday.