No court ruling on school masks yet as COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations drop below 300
Less than 300 COVID-19 patients are being treated in intensive care beds statewide, the lowest amount since Nov. 8, 2021, according to state public health data released Thursday.
The 298 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds statewide is a 31% drop from a week ago, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures.
IDPH officials reported a total of 1,611 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Illinois, down 32.3% from a week ago.
In the suburbs, hospitals in DuPage and Kane counties are now averaging 34% fewer patients than a week ago. Suburban Cook County hospitals are averaging 29.7% fewer patients since last week.
Hospitals in Lake and McHenry counties are treating an average of 36.8% fewer patients from a week ago as well, according to IDPH figures. And hospitals in Will and Kankakee counties are reporting an average of 36% fewer patients.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said hospitalizations will help determine if an indoor masking requirement will be lifted Feb. 28 for most public places, except schools and health care settings.
The school masking issue has been muddied ever since Feb. 4 when a downstate circuit court judge ruled the governor's executive order overstepped his authority.
A decision from an appellate court on the indoor masking requirement at schools was expected Thursday, but it never materialized. Appellate courts typically issue rulings on temporary restraining order appeals within five days of a plaintiff's response to the appeal. Thursday was five business days since the plaintiffs responded on Feb. 9.
Meanwhile, IDPH officials also reported 73 more COVID-19 deaths Thursday, as well as 2,538 new cases.
That brings the state's death toll from the disease to 32,249, while 3,010,525 infections have been diagnosed since the outset of the pandemic.
The state's seven-day case positivity rate is at 2.5%, down from 4.5% a week ago.
IDPH officials reported 20,750 more COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered statewide.
Providers have now administered 20,950,257 vaccine doses since they became available 15 months ago.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 67% of the state's nearly 12.7 million residents are fully vaccinated. Of those considered fully vaccinated, 48.6% have received a booster dose.
The CDC reports more than 7.5 million Illinois adults are fully vaccinated, while 977,253 children older than 5 are fully vaccinated.