CHICAGO — Illinois health officials reported 5,042 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 Wednesday, the most since the beginning of the pandemic, as new cases also set another single-day record and deaths in the state spiked to a level not seen since late May.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 12,657 new and probable COVID-19 cases Wednesday, surpassing the record of 12,623 cases set a day earlier, in addition to 145 coronavirus-related deaths, the most reported since May 27 and the fourth biggest increase overall.
Amid a statewide rise in coronavirus cases, the IDPH is urging (but not requiring) residents to work from home, only participate in “essential” activities like grocery shopping and limit gatherings if possible over the next three weeks.
“In our current situation, with a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous,” the IDPH said in a statement Wednesday.
The virus has hit one family particularly hard, with Regina Suddoth mourning the death of her 75-year-old mother while praying that her two brothers survive the virus.
Suddoth said her younger brother is on a ventilator fighting for his life, tragically unaware of the passing of his mother.
“The hospital told me he would have to be on it at least the next two weeks,” Suddoth said.
Suddoth urged everybody to protect themselves and take the virus seriously, a direct message to those who continue to downplay the virus.
With 93,464 new COVID-19 tests reported over the past 24 hours, Illinois is now averaging more than 90,000 daily tests over a seven-day period, data compiled by WGN-TV shows.
According to the IDPH, the number of new cases compared to the number of total tests performed in the state continues to rise as well, with the case positivity rate from November 3-10 coming in at 12.4%.
The IDPH is reporting new COVID-19 infections as “new and probable” cases due to an increasing number being confirmed by rapid antigen tests, which are labeled as “probable” cases under CDC guidelines. As of Wednesday, about 8% of all tests performed in Illinois were antigen tests.
Following the spike in new coronavirus-related deaths reported Wednesday, Illinois is also averaging more than 71 deaths over a seven-day period, the highest level since early June. About one-third of the deaths reported Wednesday were in Chicago (16) and the greater Cook County (34), while the rest were from across the state.
Every region of Illinois is currently under additional “Tier 1” coronavirus mitigation measures, while even stricter “Tier 2” restrictions took effect in Kankakee, Will, DuPage and Kane counties as well as southern Illinois Wednesday.
Indoor service is currently not allowed at bars and restaurants statewide, but under “Tier 2” tables are now limited to six people. Additionally, social gatherings are limited to 10 people.
As of Wednesday, Cook County outside Chicago also qualifies for “Tier 2” as the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate there remains above the state’s “failsafe” level of 8% two weeks after added restrictions were put in place. The City of Chicago will likely also qualify by the end of the week.
Of the more than 5,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday night, the IDPH said 951 are in intensive care and 404 are on ventilators. The previous day with the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations was April 28, when 5,037 patients were reported to have COVID-19.
While hospital resources statewide remain within guidelines outlined in the Restore Illinois plan, several regions in the Chicago area are nearing its minimum “surge” capacity of 20% of non-intensive care beds, including the South Suburban Region (21%), West Suburban Region (21%) and Cook County outside Chicago (21%).
All three of those regions also reported increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations over at least seven of the past 10 days.