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CHICAGO — The number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in Illinois has doubled since the beginning of July, but a WGN Investigates analysis of state health data shows Covid patients are using a remarkably small percentage of hospital beds in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 903 people were hospitalized as of Thursday with Covid-related Illness, 457 more than were hospitalized July 1.   

It’s a concerning trend but even with the increase, people with Covid-related illness only account for 4% of hospitalized patients in Illinois. They account for 7% of the intensive care beds currently in use. 

Public health officials closely track the availability of hospital beds as a key factor in determining whether to recommend restrictions be reinstated as Covid cases rise.   

IDPH guidance states restrictions may return if cases rise and hospital intensive care unit availability dips below 20% in a specific region. The regions that encompass the southern tip of Illinois and the northwest corner of the state are already below the 20% ICU threshold.   

The City of Chicago reports 22% of its hospital ICU beds are open but city data shows only 4% of ICU patients are there due to Covid-related illness. 

While the Illinois Department of Public Health can issue guidance related to Covid-restrictions, the governor would have to issue an executive order to restore mitigations. The governor’s office and state health officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.