For at least the second time this week, one of Illinois' health care regions has reported no available intensive care unit beds, a problem that has resulted in what one medical advocacy group referred to as "a public health emergency of epic proportions."
According to the updated statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Region 5, made up of 20 counties in the southern tip of the state, had zero of its 94 staffed ICU beds available for admission as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The region has seen its ICU bed availability remain under 10% for upwards of a month, and hospitalizations have continued to stay high even after a steady upward trend in those numbers began to recede at the beginning of September.
Prior to that, hospitalizations had risen significantly in August, reaching a peak of 164 on Sept. 1. As of Thursday, that number dipped slightly to 153, but remains far above where it was during the descent of hospitalizations that occurred after the COVID vaccine became more widely available in the spring.
In a tweet, Illinois Medical Professionals Action Collaborative Team (IMPACT), called the region's lack of available ICU beds "a public health emergency of epic proportions," explaining people can help turn the situation around by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask.
The positivity rate has also remained steadily high in Region 5, having been above 10% since mid-August. The number continues to be the highest in the state, coming in at 10.2% as of Tuesday.
ICU bed availability has been an issue throughout the state during a recent rise in COVID cases, with all 11 of the state’s health care regions seeing less than 25% availability of ICU beds.
In total, 502 COVID patients are currently in intensive care units across the state, taking up approximately 18% of the state’s ICU beds overall, according to IDPH data. Of those patients, 275 are on ventilators, as of Thursday night.
Overall, hospitalizations are declining statewide, with 2,082 patients currently hospitalized with COVID. That is down more than 200 from the 2,346 that were hospitalized on Sept. 9, showing that hospitalizations may be leveling off amid the pandemic.