Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a press conference on the updates about COVID-19 in Illinois on Friday, March 20, 2020 in Chicago. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Illinois is more prepared now to handle a surge of COVID-19 if another one occurs — but, so far, things are looking good, Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday.

Daily COVID-19 cases are ticking up statewide and in Chicago as the more contagious BA.2 variant has spread. That variant has led to enormous surges in other parts of the world, but local officials have said they do not yet see signs for worry locally.

The numbers of people being hospitalized with and dying from COVID-19 remain low, and those are the figures officials are watching, Pritzker said at a Thursday news conference.

“Even though we’ve seen a rise in cases — and, by the way, that doesn’t even include the cases that probably are occurring where people are testing at home and not reporting … — but even with a rise in cases, and including those, we’re not seeing a rise in hospitalizations,” Pritzker said. “It’s very small upticks and even downticks all across the state; but on balance, we’re not seeing a significant rise or really any rise right now” in hospitalizations.

Chicago health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has shared similar views recently, noting earlier this week the city’s daily COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are at all-time lows during the pandemic while cases have gone up.

Pritzker has said Illinois agencies have stocked up on tests and therapeutics that can treat people who become ill with the virus.

Illinois has had two years of experience with the virus and is now better prepared for another possible wave, Pritzker said.

“We have a much better idea today of what we need to do as a state to be prepared for surges if they should occur,” Pritzker said. “We also know how to mitigate the surges much better than we did in the last two years. That’s gonna allow us to avoid the devastating impacts, as long as those surges aren’t higher than we’ve ever seen before, which I don’t expect them to be.”

Pritzker said he feels “good about our ability to manage through” a potential wave and thinks the availability of COVID-19 treatments will help residents who do become sick.

Illinois is in a uniquely good position in the Midwest because it has one of the best vaccination rates in the region, Pritzker said.

“That helps a lot to keep people out of the hospital,” Pritzker said. “We feel reasonably good.”

Officials are carefully monitoring COVID-19 data and updating residents “whenever it’s necessary,” Pritzker said.


• In Illinois, about 8.2 million people — or 64.6 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 17,949 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 21,739,984 vaccine doses of the 26,494,545 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.8 million Chicagoans — or 68.9 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 77.3 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, 13 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 33,559 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 4,290 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 3,587 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 3,110,229.

• The state is reporting an average of 143 confirmed cases per day per 100,000 people. That average was at 141 on Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 77 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 28 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 7,358 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of no deaths per day.

• Chicago has had 783 confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 576,027 confirmed cases. An average of 493 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 12 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is down 57 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 6 percent, up from 2.3 percent a week ago. Twitter @BauerJournalism