Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a warning to state residents on Tuesday, saying that some healthcare regions in the state have seen more than triple the number of coronavirus hospitalizations than they did during the first wave of the virus earlier this spring.
According to data provided by Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health, Region 3, located in west and central Illinois and including Springfield, is seeing 3.2 times as many hospitalizations as it did during its previous peak in early April. Region 6, which includes Champaign, is seeing a staggering 3.5 times as many hospitalizations as it did during its spring peak.
The surging hospitalization numbers, along with a surge in intensive care unit usage, comes as health officials scramble to contain the rapid spread of the virus, as the state reported its new single-day high in new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
Many hospitals are issuing calls for help from the government and the public, and Pritzker is urging residents to take those calls seriously.
“It’s a difficult time for them. They are doing amazing work, but we must not let them become overrun,” he said. “We’re listening closely to them and will do everything to protect them. They need your help.”
As a whole, the state of Illinois is seeing hospitalization numbers that it hasn’t seen since mid-to-late April, when coronavirus hospitalizations were at their peak statewide. As of midnight, 4,742 residents are currently hospitalized because of the virus. That number is rapidly approaching the single-day record of 5,037 patients, which was set earlier this year.
Intensive care usage, while not quite as close to record levels, is also rising dramatically, with 911 patients currently in ICU beds. That number is up 244% since Oct. 1, according to data released by IDPH.
While areas close to Chicago are still seeing hospital bed availability remain sustainable, other areas in the state are struggling. Region 1, located in northwestern Illinois, has had the state’s worst positivity rate since early October, and has now nearly doubled its peak number of hospitalizations, which it had previously hit in late May.
Region 5, located in southeastern Illinois, has also more than doubled its hospitalization peak, according to Pritzker.
Those statistics are a sobering reminder of how quickly healthcare systems can be overrun by the virus, and with winter approaching, Pritzker says that it’s more critical than ever to postpone home gatherings and other plans that could cause the virus to spread even more quickly.
“It’s critical to remember that nothing makes a bigger difference int his pandemic than when a community decides to protect your own, by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, temporarily closing high-risk, high-exposure businesses until we get to a place where it’s safer to open again,” Pritzker said.