CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois continues to smash coronavirus records on a near-daily basis, with more than 15,000 new cases reported on Friday. Hospitalizations and testing also hit record levels.
“We are at a crisis level,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing Friday afternoon.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 15,415 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, as well as 27 additional deaths. The previous record was the 12,702 new cases reported Thursday. It’s the fourth day in a row the state has set a new case record, and the seventh time in the past nine days. Illinois has now reported at least 12,000 new cases five times in the past week.
The governor said that, even though approximately 1,000 of the new cases reported Friday were probable positives from antigen tests, rather than confirmed positives from molecular tests, the new numbers are “awful.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 551,957 cases of COVID-19, including 10,504 deaths.
The 106,540 new tests reported by IDPH on Friday also is a record, topping the old mark of 101,955 three days ago. The state’s seven-day average case positivity rate now stands at 13.2%, the highest it’s been since May.
Hospitalizations from the virus also have set multiple records in recent days, with 5,362 virus patients being treated in Illinois hospitals as of Thursday night, the most ever. The state’s hospitalization numbers have risen every day for the past two weeks, and have been above 5,000 for three days in a row, after never reaching that level during the first wave of the pandemic.
Illinois is averaging 4,767 coronavirus hospitalizations per day over the last week, up from an average of about 1,500 per day at the start of October. The state peaked at an average of 4,822 hospitalizations per day in early May.
“The situation we face now is increasingly dangerous for healthcare workers and hospital systems, especially, in every part of our state,” Pritzker said.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said people need to stay home as much as possible, avoid gatherings, and limit non-essential travel to reduce the spread of the virus.
“The virus is running rampant through our communities, and throughout our whole state, and throughout neighboring states, the entire country; and the more people go out, and move about, and are in contact with others, the greater the potential of spread of this virus, and the longer this pandemic will last,” she said. “If we let our guard down, we will let the enemy take us over.”
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One day earlier, Pritzker warned a statewide mandatory stay-at-home order might be needed soon if the new wave of the pandemic continues to surge.
“We are left with not many tools left in our toolbox to fight this. The numbers don’t lie. If things don’t take a turn in the coming days, we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left,” Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon. “With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there, but right now that seems like where we are headed.”
Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said every metric used to track the progress of the pandemic has been going up significantly since the beginning of October.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, since Oct. 1, there has been a 459% increase in the average daily case count, a 250% increase in the average case positivity rate, a 217% increase in the average number of deaths per day, a 179% increase in COVID hospitalizations, a 161% increase in ventilator usage by coronavirus patients, and a 135% increase in intensive care unit bed usage by COVID patients.
In an effort to help get the pandemic under better control in Illinois, public health officials on Wednesday recommended people work with their employers to arrange to work from home if possible for the next three weeks.
“We ask employers to make accommodation for this. Our goal is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open,” IDPH said in a news release.
IDPH also is urging people to stay at home as much as possible for the next three weeks, leaving only for essential activities, such as work that can’t be performed at home, COVID-19 testing, buying groceries, visiting the pharmacy, or seeing a doctor.
Health experts also recommended avoiding public gatherings and limiting travel in and out of communities with a high risk of infection.
“With a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous. Please, travel only if necessary,” IDPH said.