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Pritzker Sending Over 2,000 Health Care Workers To Help Illinois Hospitals During COVID-19 Surge

The ongoing strain on hospital systems stems primarily from unvaccinated Illinoisans, which is reducing capacity for any type of emergency care, state leaders say.

Mount Sinai Hospital.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — More staff is coming to Illinois hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients during the ongoing surge driven by the Omicron variant.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday 2,048 health care workers have been deployed across the state. More than 900 already are at hospitals hit hard by COVID-19 and another 552 will arrive at hospitals by next Friday, he said.

Pritzker also said the state is forming crisis teams who can quickly respond to hospitals and other struggling health care facilities. About 237 health care workers are in the field already, and another 340 will arrive over next 10 days, Pritzker said.

“I can’t say enough about how extraordinary our hospitals and our health care heroes have been throughout this pandemic, but specifically in the present moment, when exhaustion and long hours greet them every single day,” Pritzker said Wednesday.

The city and state’s public health experts have routinely said it is unvaccinated people who are disproportionately being hospitalized or dying during this and previous waves of the pandemic.

RELATED: Chicago Hospitals Struggle With Staffing, Beds As Omicron Surge Hits, With Majority Of Cases Among Unvaccinated

More than 7,100 people are in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 — over 80 percent are unvaccinated, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday. In Illinois, someone who is not vaccinated is 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than someone who is vaccinated and boosted, Ezike said.

The resulting overload on hospitals has meant there’s less capacity to treat any health emergency or conditions not related to COVID-19. Pritzker previously advised hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries, anticipating a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Just 9 percent of hospital ICU beds are available right now in Illinois, Ezike said.

“We’re making it difficult for people who are having a heart attack, end up in a car crash, have their appendix burst, have a cancer-related complication … any kind of medical emergency, we’re threatening the ability of those people to get the care they need,” Ezike said.

RELATED: Black Ice Injuries Add More Stress To Already Overwhelmed Chicago Hospitals


• In Illinois, about 7.8 million people — or 65.12 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 51,776 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 19,838,302 vaccine doses of the 22,464,505 provided to them.

• City data shows about 1.76 million Chicagoans — or 65.3 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 73.1 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Since Wednesday, 142 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 28,946 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,383 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 37,048 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 2,560,001.

• Since Wednesday, 257,206 tests were reported statewide. In all, 47,669,193 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 11.5 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 12 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 16.2 percent. It was at 16.7 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 1,117 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 670 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, 16 deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 6,513 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of 20 people dying per day, up 51 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 5,109 confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 494,638 confirmed cases. An average of 5,070 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 7 percent from a week ago.

• The city is performing an average of 32,241 tests per day, up 2 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate is at 18.2 percent, down from 20.8 percent the week prior.

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