Multiple state officials expressed cautious optimism on Wednesday that Illinois is past the peak of the omicron-driven coronavirus surge.
The state has the fewest number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 since Jan. 2. New admissions to hospitals for COVID-like illness also declined for the eighth time in the past nine days.
“Over the last two years, I’ve said over and over that the only way you know when a surge has reached its peak is to be firmly on the other side,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a Wednesday news conference. “I want to be clear, I am cautiously optimistic about this decline. But there are an awful lot of people still battling for their lives across Illinois.”
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike echoed the governor’s comments, but added the state is still “pulling every lever” to ensure hospitals are still staffed to handle the still high number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19.
“Of course, we need these trends to continue,” Ezike said. “Those numbers are still high. The numbers of people in the hospital with [COVID-19] are still higher now than at any other wave or surge of the pandemic.”
Ezike said the state believes through genomic sequencing of virus cases that the omicron variant was at least in the high 80%, if not 90% of new cases in Illinois.
Ezike also said that she’s moving away from watching case counts because she believed the state’s official count of more than 2.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases was an undercount due to the number of people who have tested positive with an at-home antigen test. At-home test numbers are not a part of the official state count, because they are not reported to the state’s laboratories and public health departments.
“But you can’t hide a hospitalization,” Ezike said. “That is a clear signal of the direction we’re moving in.”
As for any restrictions or mandates coming off at the state level, there are no changes yet. Ezike said the state will have to learn “how to co-exist with [COVID-19].”
“We have ongoing discussions. We have been waiting for an opportunity to think about that. We will absolutely share what plans we have to move forward in this pandemic,” Ezike said. “It’s not today.”
Breakthrough hospitalization data
The IDPH reported 249 breakthrough COVID-19 hospitalizations for the past week, and 281 breakthrough deaths. It’s a 19% week-over-week decrease in breakthrough hospitalizations.
Illinois has seen a recent decrease in total COVID-19 hospitalizations. As of late Tuesday, Illinois had 6,507 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, an overnight decline of 188 patients and the fewest number of COVID-19 patients.
Breakthrough is defined as an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 at least 14 days after being fully vaccinated and did not test positive in the previous 45 days. It does not take into account booster shots.
Analysis of new hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness in the state over the past week put breakthrough hospitalizations at 5.96% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois in the past week. This means those who are unvaccinated and/or not fully vaccinated made up 94.04% of COVID-19 hospital admissions in the past week. This data also does not take booster doses into account. Breakthrough deaths accounted for 39.8% of all COVID-19 deaths in Illinois last week.
COVID-19-like illness is defined as a if a patient presents with a fever and either cough, difficulty breathing or is given a diagnosis of COVID-19.
There have been a total of 6,644 breakthrough hospitalizations, and 7,843,002 of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. Of the fully vaccinated population in the state, 99.915% have not been hospitalized with a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.
There have been 2,165 total breakthrough COVID-19 deaths in Illinois.
The IDPH also released new data about breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths, showing the majority of breakthrough hospitalizations happening in the elderly population.
For breakthrough hospitalizations:
70% are 65 or older (4,643 total breakthrough hospitalizations in this group)
30% are between 18 and 64 years old (1,965 total breakthrough hospitalizations in this group)
Fewer than 1% are 17 or younger (36 total breakthrough hospitalizations in this group)
71% have at least one underlying condition or are immunocompromised
For breakthrough deaths:
86% were 65 or older
14% were between 18 and 64
47% had at least one underlying condition or were immunocompromised
The IDPH reported 26,491 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 160 additional deaths Wednesday.
The state’s seven-day rolling average for new COVID-19 cases dropped to 26,491 new cases a day, the lowest average since Jan. 5.
For Tuesday, the state administered 55,580 shots.
The state received the results of 194,306 COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours leading up to Wednesday afternoon. The state’s positivity rate is 12.0%
Illinois has seen 2,709,474 total cases of the virus, and 29,510 people have died. The state has conducted a total of 48,960,282 tests since the start of the pandemic.
As of late Tuesday, 1,085 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units, and 608 were on ventilators.
Vaccine update: As of Wednesday, the IDPH reported a total of 22,656,765 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed statewide, with 20,110,501 vaccines administered.
As of Wednesday, 7,843,002 Illinoisans have been fully vaccinated, or 61.56% of the population. Illinois has a population of 12,741,080 people.
Also, 3,657,437 people have received a booster dose, or 28.7% of the state’s population. Among 5-11 year olds, 33.66% have received at least one vaccine dose and 24.29% are fully vaccinated.
Among Illinois residents 5 and older:
Fully Vaccinated: 8,272,119 (69.4%)
At Least 1 Dose: 9,410,363 (78.9%)
Among Illinois residents 12 and older:
Fully Vaccinated: 7,987,553 (73.7%)
At Least 1 Dose: 9,006,613 (83.1%)
Among Illinois residents 18 and older:
Fully Vaccinated: 7,398,911 (75.1%)
At Least 1 Dose: 8,339,065 (84.6%)
Among Illinois residents 65 and older:
Fully Vaccinated: 1,777,089 (87%)
At Least 1 Dose: 1,955,609 (95%)
There can be as much as a 72-hour delay in reporting from health care providers on vaccines administered.
In northern Illinois, here is the percentage of the population fully vaccinated by county:
Suburban Cook: 68.25%
La Salle: 55.43%
Regional update: All 11 regions in the state are in Phase 5.
Regional data from the IDPH remains on a three-day lag.
The North Suburban (McHenry and Lake counties) region’s positivity rate decreased to 15.6%. Currently, 14% of ICU beds are available.
Within this region, McHenry County’s seven-day positivity rate average decreased to 19.8%. Lake County, which does about two-thirds of the testing in the region, is reporting a rolling average of 14.3%.
Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable four out of the past 10 days in this region. The region is down to a total of 385 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
The West Suburban (DuPage and Kane counties) region’s positivity rate decreased to 16.8%. Currently, 13% of ICU beds are available.
Within this region, Kane County’s seven-day positivity rate stayed flat at 19%, and DuPage County’s decreased to 15.7%.
Hospitalizations decreased or remained stable two out of the past 10 days in this region. The region is up to 789 total COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
The South Suburban (Will and Kankakee counties) region’s positivity rate decreased to 17.6%. Currently, 11% of ICU beds are available.
Hospitalizations decreased or remained stable seven out of the past 10 days in this region. The region is down to 363 total COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
The North (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties) region’s positivity rate increased to 20.2%.
Currently, 6% of ICU beds are available.
Within this region, DeKalb County’s positivity rate fell to 18.3%, Lee County’s rate decreased to 15.9%, and Whiteside County’s stayed flat at 18.6%.
Hospitalizations decreased or remained stable eight out of the past 10 days in this region. The region is down to 313 total COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The North-Central (Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford counties) region’s positivity rate decreased to 17.3%.
Within this region, La Salle County’s seven-day positivity rate decreased to 19.3%. Currently, 11% of ICU beds are available. Hospitalizations decreased or remained stable for three out of the past 10 days. The region is down to a total of 565 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
Chicago’s positivity rate fell to 12.0%. Currently, 10% of ICU beds are available. Hospitalizations decreased or remained stable for six out of the past 10 days.
Suburban Cook County’s positivity rate fell to 13.0%. Currently, 9% of ICU beds are available. Hospitalizations decreased or remained stable five out of the past 10 days in this region.