CHICAGO — The state’s public health officials expect Illinois to reach a grim milestone by the end of the year: 11,000 people dead from coronavirus.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the state is on track to hit that mark as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 surge in Illinois.
At least 9,522 people have already died from COVID-19 in Illinois, with 3,030 of the victims coming from Chicago.
“If what we’re seeing today does not turn around, we are on a path to see more than 11,000 COVID deaths in Illinois this year,” Ezike said at a Monday coronavirus update.
The state’s first peak of coronavirus came in the spring, when it became typical to see more than 100 people dying per day. During the summer, deaths slowed as the number of new cases being reported fell and as health care experts learned how to better care for COVID-19 patients.
But a new surge has swept through Illinois during the past few weeks, and deaths have quickly risen again.
The state has reported more than 100 deaths from COVID-19 since Friday. The most recent victims included people in their 20s and 30s.
The rise in new cases and spike in people being hospitalized for COVID-19 indicates deaths soon will climb, as well, officials have said.
“Of the nearly 5,000 people that were identified as new cases [Monday], we know that over the coming weeks certain percentage of those will end up in the hospital, a certain percentage of those will end up in the ICU,” Ezike said. “The amazing nurses and doctors [and other health care workers] … will do everything in their power to minimize the number of those hospitalized and ICU patients who go on to lose their lives.
“But as valiant as their efforts may be, it might not be enough for all of them.”
Illinoisans can slow the virus’s spread and bring down the number of people who will die by taking precautions and reducing their potential exposure to COVID-19. That means wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping 6 feet from others and not gathering, Ezike said.
“Can we do that for another? Can we limit the gatherings … ?” Ezike said. “Every individual has the power — and, I would say, the actual responsibility — to do this.”
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