Illinois COVID Update: IL reports 23,246 new cases, 198 deaths

Gov. Pritzker 'cautiously optimistic' Illinois has passed omicron peak
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 23,246 new COVID cases and 198 related deaths Thursday.

There have been 2,732,720 total COVID cases, including 29,708 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

WATCH | Gov. JB Pritzker discusses omicron peak in Illinois
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Gov. JB Pritzker said he is "cautiously optimistic" about declines in COVID-19 metrics after the record highs brought on by the omicron variant.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 14.8%.

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Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 237,161 new specimens for a total of 49,197,443 since the pandemic began.

As of Wednesday night, 6,258 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,033 patients were in the ICU and 586 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 20,159,853 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Wednesday and 61.63% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 45,522.

WATCH | Chicago past omicron peak, Dr. Arwady says
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Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city has passed the peak from the omicron variant.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Chicago has passed the peak in omicron cases, but that the city is not out of the woods yet.

With most of the key metrics trending downward, medical professionals are taking heart that the worst of the omicron surge may be over. But Gov. JB Pritzker and the director of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health are expressing cautious optimism.

Pritzker said Wednesday that he is encouraged by the declining number of COVID cases and, particularly, the drop in the number of hospitalizations, which peaked statewide last week.

"You don't know when a surge has reached its peak until you're on the other side of it," Pritzker said. "Today is our seventh day since we saw peak hospitalizations of 7,380 reported on January 13."

At Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, the number of COVID patients has now dropped below 100 for the first time since the day after Christmas, but they are still are operating at 106% capacity using overflow beds for 26 patients. But Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris Udovich is hopeful the omicron peak has indeed passed.

"We still have a fair amount of COVID patients in the hospital, but we're seeing less and less, so much so that we've decided to take our moratorium off of our elective procedures," Udovich said.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday the key metric they are watching now is not the number of COVID cases, but hospitalizations.

"They are decreasing, but those numbers are still high," Ezike said. "The numbers of people in the hospital with COVID are still higher now than they have been in any other surge or any other part of the pandemic. But the good news is the trend is downward."

Ezike said with more than half of the COVID tests now being done at home and not being reported, hospitalizations are the best indicator.

While Illinois may have reached its omicron peak, the rest of the country still has a ways to go. Dr. Fauci said it could be the middle of February before that happens.

Please note: The video at the top of this story is from a previous report

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