Illinois COVID-19: IL reports 11,632 new coronavirus cases, 37 deaths as Chicago-area hospitals feel strain

Free COVID-19 testing available at sites in northern Illinois this week

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Chicago area hospitals strained by COVID-19 case surge
With more and more people being hospitalized with COVID-related illness every day, there is real concern that the hospitals may soon become overwhelmed.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 11,632 new COVID-19 confirmed and probable cases, and 37 deaths Monday.

The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 585,248, with a total of 10,779 deaths.

With more and more people being hospitalized with COVID-related illness every day, Gov. JB Pritzker warned Monday that it is a rapidly deteriorating situation. There is real concern that the hospitals may soon become overwhelmed.

WATCH: Gov. Pritzker discusses concerning trend in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Gov. Pritzker discusses his concerns over the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations during his daily briefing on November 16, 2020.

"Let's get something clear: if we wait to take action until our hospitals are full, it will be too late," Gov. Pritzker warned.

Across the state, one out of three ICU beds are still available. But a closer look reveals that certain parts of the state are dangerously close to running out of these beds. Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, has only 15% of its beds left, with hospitalizations up more than 150% compared to last spring.

"As of our most current data, we are today averaging more than 5,200 patients fighting COVID-19 in our hospitals. That's 400 more individuals than at our spring high and a 70% increase in the last two weeks alone," Gov. Pritzker said.

Health officials in regions seeing a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases say those numbers translate to doctors and nurses who are once again working overtime and double shifts.

"As we continue to have the volumes go up, it's very difficult for our staff and physicians or clinical and non-clinical staff to continue the long hours that are working and resources are going to dry up," said Dr. Michael Kulisz, Chief Medical Officer for Northwestern Medicine's Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb, which is in Region 1.

Some hospital systems, including Advocate Aurora Health, which runs 10 hospitals across the state, have already announced they will soon begin to cut elective procedures.

Hospital administrators are already preparing for shortages. But it is the lack of staff, not the number of beds, that concerns them most, especially as a higher number of medical professionals are becoming ill themselves.

At Northwestern Medicine's Central DuPage Hospital, they are now actively adding nursing shifts, having to fill in more holes than usual.

"It's challenging," said Sue McCoy, with Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage. "So we are recruiting people either from agencies or places like individuals who have left the bedside recently and are moving back to the bedside to assist us."

Some hospital systems, including Advocate Aurora Health, which runs 10 hospitals across the state, have already announced they will soon begin to cut elective procedures.

"With the recent rise, we've started to look more stringently at electives," said Dr. Jeff Bahr, with Aurora Advocate Health. "Later this week, we will be looking at broad-scale across our system reducing elective admissions - those procedures or elective surgeries that would result in even a short hospital stay - by 50%."

State health officials sternly reminded the public that they are key to reducing the spread.

"I don't know how else to express the importance of personal responsibility," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health. "It is each individual's action, my actions, your actions, all of our actions that will dictate our path forward."

The governor also talked about a call he was on Monday morning with Vice President Pence, Dr. Fauci and others. He said the call focused on some of the more recent news concerning a vaccine and how it will eventually be distributed, once approved.

But Gov. Pritzker re-iterated that even with a vaccine or several vaccines potentially coming soon, the next two to three months are going to be quite grim, unless people heed the call to remain at home during the upcoming holiday season.

"Do your plans include those who are over 60? Do your plans include those who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk? Are some of your intended guests pregnant? You have to be thinking about all of these things before you bring additional people into your home," Dr. Ezike said.

RELATED: Where to find COVID-19 testing in Chicago area

Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 90,612 tests. In total there have been 9,161,453 specimens tested since the start of the pandemic in Illinois.

The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Nov. 9-15, is 14.7%.

RELATED: Myths about COVID-19 busted: Masks, indoor transmission, cold weather, and more

As of Sunday night, 5,581 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,144 patients were in the ICU with COVID-19 and 514 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Deaths reported Monday include:

- Clinton County: 1 male 50s

- Cook County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 3 males 60s, 2 females 70s, 3 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 males 80s, 3 females 90s, 2 males 90s

- DuPage County: 1 female 90s

- Edwards County: 1 male 80s

- Iroquois County: 1 female 60s

- Kane County: 1 male 50s

- Lake County: 1 female 50s

- LaSalle County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 3 males 90s

- Madison County; 1 male 80s

- McDonough County: 1 female 70s

- Peoria County: 1 female 80s

- Pike County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s

- Wayne County: 1 male 80s

- Will County: 1 female 90s

WATCH: Testing demand grows, and testing supplies run out

Thousands of people are getting COVID-19 tests each day, and as demand grow, testing sites around Illinois are running out of materials to perform the tests quicker and quicker.

Free COVID-19 testing will be available at the following mobile sites, regardless of symptoms, insurance or immigration status:


  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Calumet Township Community Center, 12633 Ashland Ave., Calumet Park
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bennett Day, 955 W. Grand Ave., Chicago
  • 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at Metropolitan Family Services - Belmont-Cragin, 3249 N Central, Chicago
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Believe in Thine Heart Ministries, 6000 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago
  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Ping Tom Park, 300 W. 19th Street, Chicago
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Affordable Recovery Home Campus, 13636 S. Western, Blue Island
  • 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Alpha Temple Baptist Church, 6701 S. Emerald Ave., Chicago

  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, NIU Anderson Hall Parking Lot, 520 Garden RD. DeKalb

  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday Camera Park, 101 E. Fullerton, Glendale Heights
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at West Chicago Metra Lot, 508 W. Main St.
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Hanover Township Senior Center, 240 Illinois Route 59, Bartlett.

  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Minooka Community High School - Central, 301 S. Wabena Ave., Minooka

  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at Kankakee County Health Department, 2390 W. Station St., Kankakee

  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Round Lake High School, 800 High School Drive, Round Lake

  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 1100 N. Division St., Harvard

  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday at Joliet Park District, 3000 W. Jefferson, Joliet