In the exit row? COVID-19 metrics rivaling those of Thanksgiving show Illinois ‘exiting the Omicron surge’

Just eight COVID-19 deaths were reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday, the state’s lowest daily death toll since late November. Hospitals saw their lowest occupancy numbers since before Thanksgiving.

SHARE In the exit row? COVID-19 metrics rivaling those of Thanksgiving show Illinois ‘exiting the Omicron surge’
Members of the Redford Township Unicycle club perform during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in November, the last time many COVID-19 metrics were this low.

Members of the Redford Township Unicycle club perform during the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in November, the last time many COVID-19 metrics were this low.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

SPRINGFIELD — Illinoisans are being infected, hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 at levels not seen since last autumn.

Just eight deaths were reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday, the state’s lowest daily death toll since late November.

Cases, too, were at their lowest point in nearly three months, with 2,734 reported.

“We are exiting the Omicron surge, and we should feel good about that,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kopin, chief medical officer for Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “There’s still a lot of COVID around. It’s not going away. But we certainly are in a much better place today.”

Hospitals across the state, many of which had few intensive care unit beds left to treat patients just weeks ago, reported their lowest occupancy numbers since before Thanksgiving.

People watch the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade along South State Street in November.

People watch the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade along South State Street in November.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

There were just 364 ICU beds occupied across the state Saturday night, the lowest level since Nov. 21. Hospitalizations were also at their lowest points since late November, with just 1,811 beds filled by those with COVID-19.

It’s important to note a lower number of cases and deaths are often reported following a weekend, “especially after a holiday weekend,” said IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

State government offices were closed on Friday in observance of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

But weekends don’t generally affect the reporting of hospitalizations and ICU data.

Health care workers put on new personal protective equipment as patients rest nearby in the hallway, as no rooms were open in the Emergency Department at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last month.

Health care workers put on new personal protective equipment as patients rest nearby in the hallway, as no rooms were open in the Emergency Department at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last month.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The continued downward slope following the largest surge of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began led Gov. J.B. Pritzker to announce Wednesday the end to the indoor mask mandate, effective on Feb. 28. Masks will still be required in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and on mass transit.

But not all hospitals in Illinois are seeing the same level of relief from the Omicron surge.

In the southern tip of the state, ICU beds were 93% full Sunday night, with just five open for an area serving more than 400,000 residents.

The area has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. Just 22.8% of Alexander County residents have been fully vaccinated. In Pulaski and Massac Counties, just 35.3% and 37.9% of the population are fully vaccinated, respectively.

For help finding a shot, or to set up a free in-home vaccination appointment, visit chicago.gov/covidvax or call (312) 746-4835. 

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