'Frustrating and tragic': Illinois sets new COVID-19 hospitalization record

  • At least two suburban hospital systems are treating the highest number of COVID-19 patients they've had during the entire pandemic.

    At least two suburban hospital systems are treating the highest number of COVID-19 patients they've had during the entire pandemic. Associated Press File Photo/April 2021

Updated 1/3/2022 4:12 PM

More COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in Illinois than at any other point of the pandemic.

That's according to new Illinois Department of Public Health data released Monday that shows 6,294 patients are being treated for the respiratory disease at hospitals throughout the state.


Hospitals are treating 605 more patients than just four days ago, the last time IDPH officials updated statewide COVID-19 figures.

The previous high water mark for COVID-19 patients was 6,175, set Nov. 20, 2020, according to IDPH records.

At a news conference Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the new hospitalization levels "frustrating and tragic."

"We need to approach these first weeks of January with a great deal of caution," he said. "It is frustrating and tragic that two years into the pandemic, with multiple available and free lifesaving vaccines, that we are once again in this horrible position."

Of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,086 are in intensive care, IDPH figures show.

Pritzker added that pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 nearly tripled in December.

Officials at Advocate Aurora Health and Edward-Elmhurst Health said they are now treating more COVID-19 patients than at any other time during the pandemic as well.

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With 26 hospitals in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora is reporting nearly 1,500 patients are being treated throughout that system in what officials called an "extreme surge."

"Just to give some perspective, that's double from 30 days ago," said Advocate Aurora Chief Nursing Officer Mary Beth Kingston. "These are very concerning numbers of people that are so ill, and 92% of those patients are unvaccinated, have only received the first dose or are due for a booster."

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, 198 patients were being treated at Naperville's Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital combined. The previous high for that health system was 175 patients in November 2020.

Last week, Pritzker urged hospitals to postpone elective surgeries and procedures so that limited staffing resources at hospitals could be directed to the surge of cases.


Advocate Aurora officials said they are reducing some of those procedures depending on the number of COVID-19 cases being treated at those hospitals. They also noted that some COVID-19 patients are being transferred to other hospitals in the system in an effort to alleviate workload pressures at hospitals with higher numbers of those patients.

"We've scaled back elective procedures based on community need," said Dr. Jeff Bahr, chief medical group officer at Advocate Aurora. "And we've moved some patients to more effectively manage capacity."

The state's 10 COVID-19 mass testing sites -- including in Arlington Heights, Aurora and Waukegan -- have all increased operations to six days a week and added additional staffing to handle testing demand accompanying the case surge.

IDPH officials also reported Monday that 89,195 new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed statewide since Thursday, including a one-day record on Friday of 31,461 new cases.

Since the outset of the pandemic, IDPH officials have recorded 2,238,743 cases of the disease.

Monday, IDPH officials reported 118,837 test results were returned over the past 24 hours, and 17.6% yielded a new case. That's the highest single-day case positivity rate since the first few months of the pandemic when only symptomatic people were being tested and supplies were limited.

The state's seven-day case positivity rate is at 12.8%, its highest level since November 2020 as well.

IDPH officials recorded 177 more COVID-19 deaths since Thursday, bringing the state's death toll from the virus to 27,998.

In December, the deaths of 1,503 Illinois residents due to COVID-19 were recorded by state officials. That's nearly three times as many COVID-19 deaths recorded in November, and the most in one month since January 2021.

Over the past four days, 136,961 more COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered statewide, IDPH records show.

In all, 19,313,238 doses have been administered statewide, including 3,158,232 booster doses, which were just approved for children 12 and older by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel is expected to approve boosters for that age group later this week.

The CDC is reporting 64% of Illinois' 12.7 million residents are fully vaccinated.

Of those fully vaccinated, the CDC reports 38.3% have received a booster dose, the 14th best rate in the country.

Vermont leads the nation with 48.8% of its fully vaccinated population having received a booster dose. Neighboring New Hampshire has the worst booster rate in the country with just 13.7% of fully vaccinated residents there reportedly given a booster dose.

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