The Illinois Department of Public Health said some data reported to IDPH is delayed from the weekends, including this past holiday weekend, when reporting 238 deaths Wednesday.
"Higher case numbers and higher numbers of hospitalizations do lead to, tragically, even more lives lost," Gov. JB Pritzker said.
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The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 759,562, with a total of 12,830 deaths.
Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 106,778 specimens. In total there have been 10,806,364 specimens tested since the start of the pandemic in Illinois.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Nov. 26 - Dec. 2 is 12.3%.
WATCH: Gov. Pritzker gives COVID-19 briefing Thursday
The test positivity rate is a metric the state began providing in late October. It is calculated by using the total number of positive tests over the total number of tests. This is the metric being used to by state health officials to make decisions about mitigations.
As of Wednesday night, 5,653 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,170 patients were in the ICU with COVID-19 and 693 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
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The state reported its highest number of COVID-19 related deaths on Wednesday, with 238. And while today's numbers are similarly grim, they could still be related to delays in reporting from the holiday weekend.
None of that has soothed Governor JB Pritzker's concern.
"It's just devastating for the country, it's devastating for the state of Illinois, for all of us who are very focused on trying to save people's lives," the governor said.
Illinois is entering the most deadly stretch of the pandemic so far, with 869 deaths reported over the past seven days. The governor hopes that will be a wakeup call for people.
"I look at it and I say how can people not follow the mitigations, watching the number of people who are passing away, not just in the state of Illinois, but the thousands now a day, across the United States," Pritzker said. "I just hope that people are heeding the mitigations that we're asking them to follow."
The governor also joined the Red Cross in encouraging people to donate blood during this time, not just for COVID-19 patients but those who have other medical needs. They are also calling on those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.
"We are asking everyone that is feeling healthy and well to please make an appointment to donate," said Celena Roldan, CEO of American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. "Appointments ensure social distancing and limit walk-in donors. Blood donations will be needed in the days, weeks and months to come."
Governor Pritzker said he is hopeful and believes people are making different plans for celebrations for Christmas or Chanukkah this month, and by doing so the state can avoid a possible third surge of the virus.
2nd wave COVID-19 patients hospitalized for shorter period of time, doctors report
Front line doctors have said that compared to the spring surge, patients have been hospitalized for shorter periods of time during the second sure of COVI-19 cases in Chicago.
"If you are on the hospital floor, you could be there three to five days, if you end up in ICU, you have a longer stay, 10-30 days, but in the spring we were seeing people here for weeks," said Dr. John Coleman at Northwestern Medicine.
Coleman and University of Chicago Hospital's Dr. Will Parker have treated COVID-19 ICU patients. They said more knowledge about the virus and treatments have reduced the days in a hospital.
"Particularly, we know steroids, have dramatically proven to improve the outcomes and survival of patients," Parker said.
Parker also said critical care doctors learned it was not necessary to immediately put patients on ventilators, which lengthens a hospital stay.
In the spring, ventilators were chosen as a way to protect frontline workers from COVID-19 exposure rather than using traditional ICU therapies that produce a lot of aerosols, Coleman said.
"What we have learned is with proper PPE, we are ok, we are safe and we don't need to intubate people right away," Coleman said.
If there is a third surge, doctors said they are concerned about the volume of COVID-19 patients, especially because hospitals are have seen an increase of non COVID-19 patients compared to the spring.
Gov. Pritzker also updated the state's vaccine distribution plan, saying the state could receive its first doses in as early as two weeks with priority given to the hardest-hit counties.
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"We will be distributing vaccines proportionate to population across the state so that there's no one that will get left behind as a result of being from a more rural area, for example, or a more urban area," Gov. Pritzker said. "It's really going to be divided up on population although there will be prioritization given up-front to counties that have had the highest per capita death rates."
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Days after millions traveled for Thanksgiving, state officials expressed support Wednesday for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance reducing the quarantine timeline from 14 days to 7 days with a negative test, and 10 days without a test. The goal is to increase compliance.
"There's a phrase, I guess, don't let perfect be the enemy of the good," Dr. Ezike said. "If everybody does the 10 days, where they're quarantining for those 10 days, we will get 90 to 99% of those infections. Would I like to get 100? Of course."
Some hospital systems also expressing support for that shorter quarantine time because it will allow some healthcare workers to get back on the job sooner at time staffing is at premium.
The deaths reported Thursday include:
- Adams County: 1 male 70s
- Bond County: 1 female 70s
- Bureau County: 1 male 60, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
- Carroll County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
- Clinton County: 1 female 80s
- Coles County: 1 male 70s
- Cook County: 1 male 20s, 2 males 30s, 1 male 40s, 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 2 females 60s, 1 male 60s, 10 females 70s, 5 males 70s, 3 females 80s, 2 males 80s, 11 females 90s, 2 males 90, 2 females over 100, 2 males over 100
- Cumberland County: 1 male 60s
- DeKalb County: 1 female 70s
- Douglas County: 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
- DuPage County: 4 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 3 males 80s, 3 females 90s, 1 male 90s
- Effingham County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 female over 100
- Fayette County: 1 male 50s
- Fulton County: 1 male 80s
- Hancock County: 1 male 80s
- Henry County: 1 male 60s, 2 males 70s
- Iroquois County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
- Johnson County: 1 female 70s
- Kane County: 1 female 60s, 3 males 70s, 1 male 80s
- Kankakee County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- Kendall County: 1 female 80s
- Knox County: 1 female 90s
- Lake County: 1 female 40s, 1 female 80s, 3 males 80s
- Lawrence County: 1 female 80s
- Lee County: 1 male 80s
- Livingston County: 1 female 80s
- Logan County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
- Macon County: 1 male 80s
- Macoupin County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- Madison County: 1 male 50s, 3 males 70s, 1 female 80s
- Marion County: 1 male 30s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
- Mason County: 1 female 80s
- Massac County: 1 female 90s
- McHenry County: 1 female 80s
- Morgan County: 1 male 40s, 3 males 70s, 1 female 90s, 2 males 90s
- Ogle County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
- Peoria County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 80s
- Perry County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s
- Pike County: 1 male 60s
- Rock Island County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 70s, 2 males 80s
- Saline County: 1 male 60s
- Sangamon County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
- St. Clair County: 2 males 60s, 2 males 80s
- Stark County: 1 male 70s
- Tazewell County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s
- Vermilion County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s
- Whiteside County: 1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s
- Will County: 1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s, 2 males 90s, 1 female over 100
- Williamson County: 1 male 70s, 3 females 80s, 1 female 90s
- Winnebago County: 2 males 50s, 2 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 80s