Local Editorials

Our View: In Illinois, COVID-19 mitigations are working

The state far surpasses its neighbors when it comes to cases per 100,000 residents

Waubonsee Community College’s COVID-19 community vaccine clinic.

This summer, the United States experienced a new surge in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant raged. As the surge became more severe and as schools prepared to reopen, Gov. JB Pritzker instituted mitigations once again.

It appears the mitigations are working.

On Tuesday, Illinois had the fifth-lowest seven-day rolling average in the United States of new reported COVID-19 cases, with 22 per 100,000 residents. Other than Missouri, which ranked No. 12 nationwide with 28 cases per 100,000 residents, Illinois far surpasses its neighboring states: Indiana (No. 32, 41 cases per 100,000 residents), Iowa (No. 40, 51 cases), Wisconsin (No. 41, 51 cases) and Kentucky (No. 47, 75 cases).

This news comes a week after COVID-19 surpassed the number of U.S. deaths that occurred during the 1918-19 flu epidemic. The country has experienced more than 693,000 COVID-19 deaths. Illinois has had over 1.62 million cases so far, resulting in at least 24,860 deaths.

We have suffered much from COVID-19. But as the latest numbers show, Illinois leaders consistently have followed public health experts’ advice to keep people safe.

Some 55% of Illinois residents eligible for vaccination against the virus are fully vaccinated. Other promising recent developments include:

  • During the recent surge, Illinois only briefly eclipsed its total COVID-19 hospitalizations compared to the spring wave, when vaccines were still not in high supply, and did not come close to approaching the highs of the worst of the November-December 2020 wave.
  • Almost all of the state’s regions kept intensive care unit capacity above 15% for the delta wave, ensuring critical care for all who needed it.
  • New cases in the delta wave never got higher than 5,980 in a single day. Compared to the winter wave, it did not get out of control, when we had a dozen days with more than 10,000 cases.

Despite the latest success, Illinois can still do better. For example, southern Illinois, specifically Region 5, recently ran out of available, staffed ICU beds for a full week. The state had to come in and rescue the region by opening up Veterans Affairs ICUs in other parts of the state for COVID-19 patients living in southern Illinois. This is an example of why it is vital for everyone to follow mitigation procedures, wear a mask when guidelines call for it and get vaccinated.

But overall, Illinois has been more stringent than our neighboring states and that has resulted in healthier outcomes.

The state’s positive numbers cited above can change quickly. Still, let’s thank all citizens doing their part to fight the pandemic in small and big ways. The commitment has proven to work time and time again. And for those who aren’t yet convinced, please have a frank conversation with your doctor, the person you trust to keep you healthy.

Let’s also thank the medical and health leaders throughout the state for saving lives and working hard to maintain a commitment to battle the virus.

And Pritzker deserves credit as well for taking tough, and often unpopular, action at critical times when other governors took an easier, and sometimes dangerous, course.