The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday that 44 Illinois counties are at an elevated level for COVID-19 hospitalizations according to the CDC’s national COVID-19 data tracker.
An elevated level of COVID-19 hospitalizations is defined by the CDC as 10.0-19.9 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people per week. Twelve Illinois counties are at a high level, which means that county is averaging more than 20 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people per week.
In northern Illinois, the counties at an elevated level are: Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Marshall and Kankakee counties. The 12 counties in the state at a high level are: Knox, Warren, McDonough, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Morgan, Cass, Menard, Logan, Sangamon and Christian.
Statewide, there were 1,039 new COVID-19 hospitalizations reported, an increase of 20% over the previous week.
Data also show that broad acute respiratory hospitalizations are increasing across Illinois including COVID-19, flu and RSV. IDPH officials, according to a news release, are “especially concerned about pediatric ICU (PICU) capacity which is limited in many areas of the state.”
“As we anticipated, we are seeing an increase in respiratory viruses – including COVID-19, flu and RSV - both in Illinois and across the nation,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a news release. “IDPH is closely working with our health partners to educate the public, monitor our hospital capacity, and develop effective mitigation strategies as we experience this surge. One of those strategies is our new Infectious Disease Surveillance Report, an easy to use, interactive dashboard that provides vital information to keep our residents safe.
“During this critical period with hospitalizations rising, I encourage all of our residents to use the tools available to keep yourself and your families healthy and protected. These tools include COVID-19 testing (especially if visiting someone at risk for severe disease); enhanced ventilation; good hand hygiene; staying home and seeking treatment if sick; masking in crowded places; AND getting the COVID-19, flu, and RSV vaccines for which you or your loved ones are eligible. These tools are especially critical for those most at-risk for severe disease including those who are over 65, immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions. And parents and caregivers: please also protect those young children given the limited pediatric ICU capacity in many areas of the state.”
IDPH is also encouraging all healthcare settings to consider masking in patient care areas especially if caring for those with weakened immune systems as both RSV and COVID-19 are rising. Per CDC recommendations, universal masking should be considered facility-wide or, based on a facility risk assessment, targeted toward higher risk areas (e.g., emergency departments, urgent care) or patient populations during periods of higher levels of community COVID-19 or other respiratory virus transmission.
For Paxlovid, a COVID-19 treatment, the Paxcess Patient Support Program will provide free government funded supplies to those who have Medicaid/Medicare or are uninsured through a voucher system which takes five minute to enroll in. For those with commercial insurance, they will provide a $1,500 co-pay assistance card for those who self-attest they do not have full medication coverage. This should cover the current cost of a full course of Paxlovid, with no limits on the number of times the prescription could be filled in a year, but no sooner than 90 days from the last refill, given low risk of reinfection within 90 days.