Citing increasing hospital capacity and a decrease in the rate of new coronavirus cases in the state, Governor J.B. Pritzker Tuesday said there is more evidence that Illinois is making progress in its response to COVID-19.
According to Pritzker, the state has seen a significant increase in so-called “doubling rates,” a statistic that shows how rapidly the number of coronavirus cases is doubling in the state.
“That’s a very good thing,” he said. “The higher the number is, the slower your growth, which means the flatter your curve.”
According to data from Rush University Medical Center, the “doubling rate” was at 2.1 days in the early days of the pandemic in Illinois. On April 1, the number was at 3.1 days, according to the governor.
As of Sunday, Governor Pritzker says that number has increased to a doubling in cases every 8.2 days, and the number of deaths related to the virus is doubling every 5.5 days.
Pritzker credited the state’s “stay-at-home” order and social distancing guidelines issued by the federal government for the increase in that “doubling rate,” and officials encouraged residents to continue following those rules.
“The reason the doubling time is prolonging is that these measures that have been dictated and followed, so we have to stay the course,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said.
Over the last week, Pritzker says the number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus has increased by just over 600, with 4,283 people hospitalized as a result of the virus.
Despite that increase, Pritzker says that an increase in hospital capacity is helping to cope with it.
“These numbers are increasing, but so too is our overall hospital capacity,” he said. “In August 2019, our state averaged about 25,500 total (hospital) beds. As of this weekend, our total bed count is about 30,000.”
According to Pritzker, the number of ICU beds occupied by coronavirus patients did increase from 35 percent to 43 percent a week ago, but that number has dropped to 40 percent as of Tuesday. The percentage of ventilators used by coronavirus patients has also decreased from 29 percent to 25 percent over the last week, the governor said.
“Overall, these numbers are indicators of our growing ability to manage capacity within the healthcare system across Illinois,” the governor said.
Despite this progress, Pritzker cautioned residents that it is still early in the fight against the virus, and that residents must remain vigilant in their efforts to help prevent the spread of the disease.
“There is no one who wants our state to open up more than I do,” Pritzker said. “I want kids to go back to school and parents to go back to work. I want small businesses thriving, restaurants flooded with reservations, job growth to return to record highs.
“But no matter what President Donald Trump may say, I will do what’s best to safeguard the health and safety of Illinois’ residents. That means test, trace and treat. I’m hopeful the president will help us accomplish that, because that’s what will make it safer for people to begin to return to their normal lives,” he added.