The next four weeks could be the "most crucial month of this entire pandemic," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday, warning that the state may not yet have seen the post-Thanksgiving surge health officials warned was possible.
Pritzker said that while he is hopeful a recent improvement in COVID-19 statistics in the state will continue, "the numbers still have a long way to go to move away from what could reasonably be called the 'danger zone.'" He warned that a "surge within the surge" remains possible.
"We are now on our 11th day since Thanksgiving, and we are four days out from
Hanukkah, 18 from Christmas, 19 from Kwanzaa and 24 from New Year’s
Eve," Pritzker said during his daily coronavirus briefing.
"We quite literally have very limited leeway in our hospital systems to manage another surge," he added.
According to the governor and data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, three out of four staffed hospital beds are currently in use statewide. Illinois is also averaging 152 deaths per day from COVID-19.
As of late Sunday evening, 5,190 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Illinois. Of those patients, 1,123 are currently in intensive care units, and 648 are on ventilators.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said it is still too early to tell if a post-Thanksgiving surge will be seen in Illinois, likely in the form of an increase in cases. If cases do rise, hospitalizations, then deaths, would then follow, she said.
She noted that officials will be closely monitoring data through the end of next week to watch for indicators of such a spike, noting that post-holiday gatherings and travel could delay numbers even further.
"It’s likely too early for us to have yet seen the bulk of Thanksgiving-related hospitalizations yet," Pritzker said.
Health officials continued to urge residents to avoid even small gatherings for the December holidays.
"Let’s give each other the greatest gift of all this holiday season:
good health, and a bright future," Pritzker said.