Illinois' COVID-19 hospitalization count the highest in 10 months
Illinois hospitalizations from COVID-19 are at their highest level in 10 months, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data.
IDPH officials are reporting 2,458 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals statewide, 470 of whom are in intensive care.
The last time there were so many patients hospitalized was Feb. 2, IDPH records show.
Officials said colder weather means more time spent indoors for many, increasing the likelihood of being exposed and infected.
"People should continue to take the same precautions to protect against COVID-19 and its variants; get vaccinated -- and a booster when eligible -- wear a mask in indoor public settings, avoid crowds and wash your hands frequently," said IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.
Hospitalizations have been climbing rapidly in the suburbs over the past week, according to IDPH figures.
• Hospitals in suburban Cook County are averaging 529 COVID-19 patients a day, 23.3% more than a week ago.
• Hospitals in DuPage and Kane counties are averaging 195 COVID-19 patients a day, 21.9% more than a week ago.
• Hospitals in Lake and McHenry counties are averaging 144 COVID-19 patients a day, 37.1% more than a week ago.
• Hospitals in Will and Kankakee counties are averaging 137 COVID-19 patients a day, 22.3% more than a week ago.
Another 6,119 new cases were reported Wednesday as well, the first time the state has exceeded 6,000 new cases in a single day since Jan. 15.
Since the outset of the pandemic, Illinois has recorded 1,815,994 infections.
IDPH officials also reported 45 more deaths from the virus, bringing the state's confirmed death toll from COVID-19 to 26,459.
The state's seven-day case positivity rate also rose again to 4.4%, up from 4.1% the previous two days. Case positivity is the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of tests. A seven-day average is used to account for any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures, which allows health officials to track the level of infection within a certain population.
Federal health officials announced the first case of the Omicron variant was diagnosed in the U.S. Wednesday in California. The person was fully vaccinated but had not yet received a booster, and exhibited mild symptoms.
Many public health officials believe the variant was likely already in the U.S. before it was detected in South Africa last week.
"It will likely be a week or two before public health officials and scientists worldwide have data and more information about the variant and vaccine efficacy based on real-world experience as well as lab results," Arnold said.
Meanwhile, 69,039 more doses of COVID-19 vaccines have made it into the arms of Illinois residents and workers, according to IDPH figures.
Vaccine providers throughout Illinois have now administered 17,357,231 doses of the vaccine.
IDPH officials said 58.1% of the state's 12.7 million residents are now fully vaccinated.