'It means we're in bad shape': Illinois surpasses 11,000 COVID-19 deaths, 600,000 infections

  • Drivers split into three lanes as they wait for a COVID-19 test Tuesday at the state-run testing site on Farnsworth Road in Aurora. Though the wait time was around an hour Tuesday, officials have seen up to three hours wait.

      Drivers split into three lanes as they wait for a COVID-19 test Tuesday at the state-run testing site on Farnsworth Road in Aurora. Though the wait time was around an hour Tuesday, officials have seen up to three hours wait. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/18/2020 4:36 PM

COVID-19 deaths in Illinois surpassed 11,000 Wednesday as the number of residents infected by the respiratory disease also exceeded the 600,000 threshold.

State health officials reported 140 more people died from COVID-19 and another 8,922 were infected with the disease.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That brings the state's death toll to 11,014 since the outbreak began. More than 1,000 of those deaths occurred during the past two weeks, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike months ago predicted the state would surpass 11,000 deaths by the end of the year. Asked Wednesday about surpassing that milestone six weeks earlier than expected, she was blunt.

"It means we're in bad shape," she said. "We've exceeded projections by six weeks. If we exceed all of our projections, the numbers would just be untenable."

Additionally, 606,771 residents have also been diagnosed with the virus since the outset of the pandemic, state officials reported Wednesday. The spike in its caseload has been aided recently by health officials adding "rapid result" antigen test figures to the state's daily totals, a decision that was made to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on Nov. 6.

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The state's seven-day average infection rate dropped to 11.9%, almost a full percentage point from Tuesday's rate.

The dip comes a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a statewide rollback of business operations and social gatherings that will again close casinos and theaters, significantly limit capacity at gyms and retail businesses, halt indoor youth and adult group sports, and curtail events from weddings to funerals starting Friday.

Asked if the decline was a reason to be optimistic, Pritzker demurred.

"Yes, there's a glimmer of optimism, I guess, is the right way to see it, but I have been fooled before by the numbers," he said.

Locally, the seven-day average infection rates for Chicago and the collar counties decreased everywhere except DuPage County -- the rate remained the same -- and in Will County, which saw a small increase to 19%.

In McHenry County, where the average infection rate was 23% just last Friday, test results show the average infection rate at 15% now.

IDPH officials also reported another increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday, with 5,953 more patients being treated statewide, up 66 patients from the previous day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units dropped slightly to 1,146. Patients with the virus are utilizing more than 30% of ICU beds statewide.

Pritzker said he's received concerning reports from hospital administrators about the treatment of nurses and doctors who have been "verbally assaulted" in public by conspiracy theorists and even at work by those seeking treatment, who still believe the "disease is a hoax or some sort of hospital profit scheme."

"It's beyond tragic for all involved," he said. "Health care workers risk their lives each day, walking into the face of danger. They still deserve to be hailed as heroes."

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