CHICAGO (CBS) — The coronavirus surge is affecting all ages and races.

On Monday alone, Illinois public health officials on Monday reported 11,632 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, as well as 37 additional deaths.

And though this may be hard to imagine, the number of people hospitalized is worse than what we saw in the spring.

“Our doctors, nurses, health care workers are already stretched beyond their limits,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, such is certainly the case at one of our largest hospital systems – Advocate.

The Advocate system includes 26 hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin. Some big ones, such as Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, are sounding the alarm and are redeploying staff to care for many more patients.

“Next two to three months will be very difficult,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg of Advocate Aurora Health.

They will be so difficult that Advocate Aurora Health, one of Illinois’ largest hospital systems, is prioritizing the services it provides as it prepares for the second surge of COVID-19. And its cases are already high now.

“Our medical centers have the highest level of inpatients since the beginning of the pandemic, sitting at just over 1,100 patients,” said Dr. Jeff Bahr of Advocate Aurora Health.

Advocate Aurora Health is reducing elective surgeries by 50 percent this week to free up hospital beds, but doctors insist they will continue to do more serious operations.

“Any urgent or emergency surgery that without doing would result in loss of life and limb or something else, those go on without delay,” Bahr said.

Concerned about staffing shortages as the COVID-19 surge grows, Advocate plans to hire traveling nurses and offer pay incentives.

“Staffing has been, and will continue to be one, of our primary challenges – particularly at the end of the fall and winter seasons,” said chief nursing officer Mary Beth Kingston.

Like health care professionals across the country, Advocate Aurora Health is urging you to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to people living in your home. The hospital system is fearful the holiday season will put many at risk – and strain hospitals everywhere.

“What we’re really trying to do is encourage people to give one more big push to get through the winter, and it will get better in the spring,” Dr. Citronberg said.

On one brighter note, because of the way doctors are treating COVID patients today, they need fewer ventilators.

Advocate doctors also said they have a “robust supply of PPE.” So clearly, some lessons were learned during the first surge.

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