State’s daily COVID-19 caseload soars the highest since early winter, ICUs 84% full

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,942 new coronavirus infections on Friday, topping last Friday’s 4,904, which had been the highest since Jan. 23.

SHARE State’s daily COVID-19 caseload soars the highest since early winter, ICUs 84% full
A nurse takes her gloves off as she walks out of a COVID-19 patient’s room at Roseland Community Hospital in April of 2020.

A nurse takes her gloves off as she walks out of a COVID-19 patient’s room at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last year.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Once again, Illinois is ending the week with a daily COVID-19 caseload bigger than any the state has seen since late January.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,942 new infections on Friday, topping last Friday’s 4,904, which had been the highest since Jan. 23.

Overall, the state saw 25,636 new cases of coronavirus infections over the past seven days, a daily average of 3,662, and 174 deaths over the past week, a daily average of nearly 25.

The somber statistics on Friday came one day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered everyone 2 and older to resume wearing masks indoors and instituted a vaccine requirement for educators and some health care workers.

“Unfortunately, we are running out of time as our hospitals are running out of beds,” the governor said on Thursday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday reinstated a statewide, indoor mask mandate and announced a vaccine requirement for educators in K-12 and higher education.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday reinstated a statewide, indoor mask mandate and announced a vaccine requirement for educators in K-12 and higher education.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

As of Thursday night, 16% of the state’s 3,152 hospital beds in intensive care units were available. Altogether, 2,240 Illinoisans were hospitalized with COVID-19, 500 of them in ICUs and 253 on ventilators.

The weekly case totals are up slightly from the 24,682 reported last Friday, but deaths are up significantly from last week, when the state reported a weekly tally of 126 deaths.

Almost 78 percent of Illinois adults have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 61 percent are now fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All but one of the state’s 102 counties — Stephenson in northwestern Illinois — is now hitting the CDC’s category for “high transmission” of the virus. And Stephenson is only one level below that, in the “substantial” spread category.

Map of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus transmission rates in Illinois as of Thursday.

Map of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus transmission rates in Illinois as of Thursday.

Illinois Department of Public Health

The governor has said his latest facial covering mandate was prompted by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and those who refuse to get a shot of the “life-saving vaccine,” declaring the state is now in a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

From January through July, 98% of the state’s COVID-19 cases, 96% of the coronavirus hospitalizations and 95% of the deaths are among the unvaccinated, according to public health department figures.

In deep southern Illinois, the area with the lowest vaccination rate in the state, only five ICU beds were open Thursday night for a region that is home to more than 400,000 Illinoisans. Earlier this week, only one ICU bed was available.

“Unfortunately, our current vaccination levels are not enough to blunt the ferocity of the Delta variant and hospitalization surges in some regions,” Pritzker said Thursday.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases is currently 5.2%, down from 5.3% one week ago, according to state statistics.

Since reporting on Aug. 20, laboratories have reported 495,608 specimens for a total of 28,568,305.

A total of 13,914,213 vaccines have been administered in the state as of Thursday night. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines given daily is 24,056 doses. Since Aug. 20, 168,391 doses were reported administered in Illinois.

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