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Illinois hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients

State leaders continue to urge vaccination
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:12 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - There are over 7,200 people hospitalized for COVID-19 complications in Illinois. Gov. JB Pritzker has deployed 2,048 health care workers to help overwhelmed hospitals across the state.

“This current wave of COVID is causing more people to get sick than ever before in the pandemic,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “And the vast majority of the serious illnesses and deaths are among the unvaccinated.”

The governor said 919 additional health care workers are currently on-site helping hospitals hit hardest by the COVID surge. Pritzker explained another 552 workers will arrive at hospitals by next Friday.

He told reporters in Chicago that COVID-19 reaction teams are also responding quickly to crises at hospitals and other health care facilities.

The administration is helping several hospitals with applications for more health care workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A dozen FEMA personnel started to work in the Rockford region Wednesday.

Pritzker is also allowing out-of-state health care workers to continue their work in Illinois with expanded permissions to care for COVID-19 patients and other patients in need.

Doctors who received their training in other countries are now allowed to assist licensed medical providers in Illinois. Out-of-state doctors, nurses and mental health providers now have the opportunity to provide telehealth services for their pre-existing Illinois patients.

Meanwhile, the state’s top public health official says 80% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 complications are unvaccinated. Dr. Ngozi Ezike also noted Wednesday that unvaccinated people in Illinois are 11 times more likely to end up in the hospital than someone who is vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

Pritzker and Ezike aren’t denying the fact that there are many breakthrough COVID cases right now. Ezike says no one should compare vaccinated people with minor symptoms to unvaccinated people who need to take up hospital resources.

“Of the 7.7 million who have been fully vaccinated, 0.08% have been hospitalized with COVID,” Ezike said. “That’s not less than 1%. That’s less than one-tenth of 1%.”

Dr. Ezike also explained it is too early to tell if Illinois has reached the peak of infections from the omicron variant. She stressed that only 9% of the state’s intensive care beds are available right now. Ezike pleaded with people to get vaccinated and “do what’s right for the greater good.”

“Imagine yourself as one of the nurses or the doctors that’s going into the umpteenth patient room to treat a person for something that was preventable,” Ezike said. “Our health care workers are burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle as well, to care for COVID patients who could’ve avoided the hospitalization if they were up to date on their vaccine.”

Even as COVID-19 continues to surge across Illinois, Pritzker says the best place for kids right now is in the classroom. Pritzker says health and safety must be the primary concerns for keeping schools from moving to remote learning.

The governor issued an executive order regarding COVID-19 school exclusion Tuesday to ensure those on school property stay safe. Pritzker noted that his administration will continue to provide vaccinations, testing, and masks to all schools that request it.

“That’s as true in Chicago as it is in the collar counties as it is in central of southern Illinois,” Pritzker said. “Children and teachers belong in schools, learning in a healthy environment.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 34,573 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 144 deaths Wednesday. 237,157 tests were conducted over the last 24 hours and the 7-day rolling positivity rate is 12%.

IDPH officials also reported 7,219 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 complications as of Tuesday night. 1,131 of those patients are in the ICU and 650 are on ventilators.

56,796 vaccines were given over the last 24 hours. 82.4% of Illinoisans 12 and older have received at least one shot, and 73.4% of those people are fully vaccinated. The 7-day rolling average for shots given is 51,745.

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