Positivity rate decreases as hospitalization growth slows

Officials urge caution ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

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By Jerry Nowicki

Capitol News Illinois

The statewide COVID-19 case positivity rate dipped to a seven-day rolling average of 10.9 percent on Nov. 23, marking three straight days of decreases which put it at 2.3 percentage points below a Nov. 13 second-wave high.

The state reported 8,322 cases Monday among 91,562 test results reported, a one-day positivity rate of 9.1 percent. From Saturday through Monday, the state averaged 10,075 cases among more than 104,000 test results reported each day. 

Hospitalizations showed signs they could be leveling as well, although they remained near record highs and ticked up from the day prior. As of Nov. 22, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,171 hospital beds in use by COVID-19 patients, which was an increase of 99 from the evening before but four below the record-high of 6,175 set Nov. 20. 

The decrease from Friday to Saturday was the first time hospitalizations did not increase from the day prior since Oct. 24.

Last week, IDPH began reporting hospital capacity based on available staff, rather than existing beds, in order to "make sure we had a fully accurate picture of how many patients could actually be cared for in hospitals across the state," according to the department's director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike. 

"We can't look only at the number of empty beds, but also the ability of the hospital to staff those empty beds," she said. "Without doctors or nurses or respiratory therapists or other health care workers that can actually care for the patients, it really doesn't matter how many beds you have." 

Intensive care bed usage pushed to a second-wave high as of Sunday night, with 1,206 COVID-19 patients occupying ICU beds. That left about 23 percent of the state's staffable ICU beds unused. 

Ventilator use on Sunday night shot to a high not seen since May 29, with 635 COVID-19 patients requiring the machines, an increase of 46 from the day prior. 

"Let's lessen the burden on all of our hospital teams and we can do this by not spreading infection over the Thanksgiving holiday by wearing our mask, by watching our distance, by washing our hands and by getting our flu shots," she said. 

She said people should consider hosting Thanksgiving events virtually rather than in person. 

"Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet," she said. "People can still change their plans and change the outcome. We don't have to have super-spreader events at homes throughout our state and throughout the country and then bring it back. Please reconsider your plans and see if we can be part of the solution to decrease infections instead of part of the plan to increase them."

On a weekly, seven-day average from Monday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Nov. 22, the state averaged 6,058 people hospitalized for COVID-19 each day, an increase of 790, or 15 percent from the previous week. That rate of increase slowed significantly from the four weeks prior, when it increased anywhere from 24 to 31 percent each week.

 

COVID rates still high locally, but slowing

At a local level, reports of new cases of COVID-19 in Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside continued to be much higher than at any time during the first seven months of the pandemic, but last week the rate of new cases indicated a possible slowdown.

After hitting a high of 152 cases for the week ending on the morning of Nov. 17, Brookfield saw its number of new cases in one week fall for the first time in more than a month.

For the week ending on the morning of Nov. 24, Brookfield saw 94 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 added to its total. That ended six straight weeks where the number of new cases increased, with the count exploding Nov. 10 when the village topped 100 cases for the first time in a one-week period.

Brookfield in just the past four weeks has added just shy of 400 new cases. It took the village about 29 weeks to reach its first 400 cases. To date, the village has experienced 853 cases of COVID-19, four of them fatal.

The number of new cases ending on the morning of Nov. 24 also fell week over week in Riverside and North Riverside.

There were 58 new cases in Riverside compared to an all-time one-week high of 60 the week prior. Since the pandemic began, there have been 440 cases of COVID-19 in Riverside, with two people dying from the disease.

After reporting 34 new cases the week prior, North Riverside added 27 new cases for the week ending the morning of Nov. 24. That brought the village's total number of cases since March to 256. Three North Riverside residents have died from COVID-19.

Bob Uphues contributed to this report.

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