By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have fallen from their second-wave highs, but the death toll from the disease continues to mount.
While Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday he was encouraged by the trend in the 18 days since the state levied Tier 3 mitigations, he added, “the numbers still have a long way to go to move away from what could reasonably be called the danger zone.”
“In other words, the surge on top of a surge that national experts have said might define the holiday season is still the focus of our attention,” Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.
From Saturday through Monday, the state reported another 372 deaths, an average of 124 each day over the three-day span. The death toll surpassed 13,000 since the pandemic began, rising to 13,343 among 796,264 cases and 11.1 million test results reported.
Statewide, the rolling seven-day average case positivity rate was 10.3 percent Monday, the 15th straight day it has hovered between 10 and 11 percent.
“So far, we haven’t seen our positivity rates start to creep back up, which is a good sign,” Pritzker said. “But we also haven’t seen it substantially fall – not a good sign. It may be that our mitigations are working to offset the expected surge in cases. But we won’t know that for sure for at least two more weeks.”
At the end of Sunday, there were 5,190 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, an increase of 30 from the day prior. For the seven-day period ending Dec. 6, there were 5,484 people hospitalized each day on average. That’s a decrease of 461, or about 7.7 percent, from the week prior, the second week in a row the average decreased.
Approximately 28 percent of hospital beds remained open statewide, and Pritzker said COVID-19 hospitalizations are still 14 percent above spring highs.
“Statewide, approximately three in four of our staffed hospital beds are currently in use,” Pritzker said. “That’s not the kind of statistic anyone should hang their hat on while infections are rising nationally, and states around us are running out of room in their hospitals. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay masked and stay home.”
There were 1,123 intensive care beds in use by COVID-19 patients as of Sunday, an increase of 20 from the day prior. That left 21.1 percent of ICU beds open statewide, while the seven-day average for ICU bed usage stood at 1,153. That was a decrease of 4.6 percent, or 56, from the prior seven-day period. It’s the first time since mid-September the average decreased on a weekly basis.
COVID-19 patients occupied 648 ventilators as of Sunday, an increase of five from the day prior. The seven-day average for ventilator use stood at 688 as of Sunday, a decrease of 11, or 1.6 percent, from the previous seven-day period.
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