'We are on the precipice': State reports nearly 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, 36 more deaths

New cases of COVID-19 totaled a record 6,943 Friday, an 89% spike from September averages, and deaths from the respiratory disease came to 36, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

In September, new infections totaled 1,924 a day on average contrasted with 3,638 daily from Oct. 1 through Friday.

Illinois hospitals had 3,092 patients with COVID-19 as of Thursday night. It contributed to a 38% surge in hospitalizations in October over those in September, with 2,129 patients a day in hospitals from Oct. 1 to 29, compared to 1,540 over that period in September.

Thirteen of the deaths were in Chicago and the collar counties, and 23 were downstate.

The news came as Gov. J.B. Pritzker imposed restrictions that include no indoor service at restaurants and bars in east-central Illinois (Region 6) effective Monday.

"This is an extraordinarily dangerous time, and as a result I am doing everything in my power to keep down the infection rate," Pritzker said.

The 21-county area, which includes Champaign County, is measuring a virus test positivity rate of 8.2% based on a seven-day average.

That means 10 out of 11 Illinois public health regions, including those that comprise Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will counties, are facing restrictions as COVID-19 metrics leap higher.

"We are on the precipice of the entire state entering into mitigation," IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.

And, with Halloween imminent, "we remind parents and children alike to make good decisions," Pritzker said at a briefing Friday. "Find new ways to celebrate the holiday while staying safe from the virus, and build surgical or medical masks into your costume." The IDPH offers tips for trick or treating safely at

The increase in hospitalizations is being felt at Elmhurst Hospital. The hospital handled as many as 72 patients a day with COVID-19 in April that dropped to one person in early September. As of Friday, the hospital had 45 virus patients.

"It was chaos in the spring," said Bonnie Haddad, a registered nurse at Elmhurst Hospital. "Back in March I was working in critical care. Two patients died in a four-hour period. It was awful. I had to deal with the death of one patient, and then the death of the other."

At the same time, Haddad was caring for a third patient and "I had to be ready to take on more."

Now, "the numbers are definitely going up," Haddad said. However, "the first time no one knew what to expect. This time, we have a treatment, and we know what's coming. ... We know how quickly things can deteriorate and to be ready for it."

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