Illinois hospitals averaging 15% fewer COVID-19 patients from peak of delta surge

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois are down 15% from the peak of the most recent surge two weeks ago.

Hospitals throughout Illinois are currently treating an average of 1,957 COVID-19 patients a day over the past seven days. Two weeks ago, hospitals were treating an average of 2,304 COVID-19 patients a day for the week, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records.

"The numbers have stabilized over the past couple weeks after we started seeing the delta variant surge about two months ago," said Dr. Alan Loren, chief medical officer and executive vice president at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. "We're beginning to see the case numbers come down a little bit, but they're definitely younger than in past surges and the overwhelming majority are unvaccinated."

Illinois Department of Public Health officials Friday reported hospitals in Illinois were treating 1,926 COVID-19 patients, 474 of whom were in intensive care.

"For someone who doesn't require ICU care, the average hospital stay for a COVID-19 patient is about five days," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, medical director of infection control and prevention at Edward Hospital in Naperville. "For the patients who are in ICU and get to the point they require mechanical ventilation, there's about 50% survivability."

Currently, 252 COVID-19 patients are on ventilators at hospitals throughout Illinois, according to IDPH figures.

Statewide, most hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, IDPH officials reported.

"Almost universally when they end up in the hospital they say they didn't take it seriously enough and they're going to be an advocate for the vaccine when they get better," Loren said of unvaccinated patients he has treated.

Among the 33 COVID-19 patients being treated in the Edward-Elmhurst Health system, 73% are unvaccinated, hospital officials reported.

"It's very unusual for a fully vaccinated individual to get symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization," Pinsky said. "The breakthrough cases we're seeing are largely among the elderly or have significant underlying conditions."

Pinsky said some patients have cited misinformation about the safety of the vaccine as the reason for not getting immunized.

"The combination of misinformation and underestimating the severity of COVID accounts for the vast majority of our hospitalized COVID-19 patients," he said. "Most regret it and wish they had gotten vaccinated."

IDPH officials also reported Friday that another 24,527 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered statewide, bringing the total number of vaccine inoculations to 14,419,886 since mid-December 2020.

IDPH records show 54.8% of the state's population of roughly 12.7 million residents are now fully vaccinated.

But another 40 COVID-19 deaths were also reported, as well as 3,304 new cases.

That brings the state's death toll from COVID-19 to 24,783, while 1,612,129 infections have been diagnosed since the outset of the pandemic.

But new cases are also on the decline, according to IDPH records. The state is averaging 3,112 new cases a day over the past week, down 16.4% from two weeks ago.

And testing statewide continues to rise. IDPH officials reported 150,245 test results Friday, the most ever in a single day in Illinois.

The state's seven-day case positivity rate dropped to 2.7% as a result of all the testing. Case positivity is calculated as 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.

The doctors are hopeful the worst of the delta variant surge has happened and the U.S. will see a steep decline in cases like India and the United Kingdom witnessed when delta raged there earlier this year.

"We hope so, but it's too early to tell," Loren said. "Because (the delta variant) was so infectious, it does seem to burn out faster than previous variants."

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