Illinois COVID-19 Update: Testing ramps up as IL reports 11,891 new coronavirus cases, 127 deaths

DuPage County works to expand testing; hospital bed availability in question

ByJesse Kirsch WLS logo
Sunday, November 22, 2020
DuPage County works to expand testing; hospital bed availability in question
Testing is ramping up across the state as Illinois reported 13,012 new COVID-19 cases and 126 deaths Friday.

WEST CHICAGO, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 11,891 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 along with 127 deaths Saturday.

The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 646,286, with a total of 11,430 deaths. This was the fourth day in a row that Illinois reported more than 100 COVID-19 deaths, which hasn't happened since mid-May.

COVID-19 testing is ramping up across the state as cases continue to surge, and hospitalizations increase.

There have been long lines at testing sites throughout the Chicago area, including DuPage County.

Now the county is working to expand its testing, with a new site in West Chicago. There were already long lines Saturday morning in the Metra commuter parking lots near the testing site.

The city of West Chicago, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the DuPage County Health Department joined together to put on the mobile testing site, located at 508 W. Main St. Organizers planned to remain open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., or until the tests run out.

There are also other ongoing testing sites:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the VNA COVID-19 Community Testing Center, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 155 N. Prince Crossing Road, free to those with no insurance
  • 7 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at the DuPage County Complex, County Farm Road, until the daily test capacity is reached; the testing is free
  • The mayor of West Chicago sent a letter this week, pleading with residents to stay home for Thanksgiving. He cited the rising number of cases in West Chicago.

    Gov. JB Pritzker's Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions went into effect Friday.

    At his daily briefing Friday, Pritzker brought in video of the family of 30-year-old Danielle Kater of Bloomington, who died earlier this month.

    Top Illinois officials pleaded with Illinoisans to take COVID-19 seriously, warning of hospitals approachign capacity and rising deaths. 30-year-old Danielle Kater is one of them.

    Her mother, father and young widower asked people to take the virus seriously.

    "These aren't just numbers. They're not just statistics. They're real people with real lives and real futures that have been stolen by this virus," her mother Tina Rubin said.

    WATCH: Gov. Pritzker, Dr. Ezike give COVID-19 update

    Governor JB Pritkzer and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike gave a COVID-19 update for Illinois as the state reported more than 13,000 new cases and Tier 3 mitigations took effect.

    At Rush University Medical Center, where the lobby is now a triage area, nurses from specialized units are helping with the surge of COVID-19 patients.

    "We're floating a lot to the COVID units because they are literally at full tilt right now, including many patients in the ICUs, and it's just getting worse every day," said Pam Katz, an oncology nurse at Rush.

    Katz is exhausted and also frustrated.

    "I hear stories from the other nurses," she said. "We've got people in the ICUs and even just the regular COVID units saying, 'Well I don't have COVID. This is pneumonia. This is...' There's even patients saying, well, I'd rather this be lung cancer than COVID."

    Silver Cross Hospital in Will County is feeling the challenge of the surging cases, as hospital beds fill up.

    WATCH: Illinois hospital systems nearing 'a breaking point,' administrator says

    The state surpassed 6,000 people in Illinois hospitals on Thursday, a new record and nearly double the number at the start of the month.

    Will and Kankakee counties form Region 7, where officials say there are only 22 ICU beds now available for a combined population of 800,000 people.

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

    In Will and Kankakee just 11 percent of non-ICU beds are free; Kane and DuPage counties are also below the 20% warning threshold.

    "I think it's a dire situation. Their positivity is still going up, which means that we're going to continue to see more people infected," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, IDPH director.

    Another sign of the strain on health systems is that officials say increasingly Illinois hospitals are requesting they be placed on bypass because of a full emergency department and a shortage of beds

    Illinois Tier 3 restrictions now in effect

    Tier 3 mitigation restrictions are now in effect throughout the state of Illinois, vastly reducing non-essential business capacities and closing indoor activits to prevent the spre

    The new Tier 3 restrictions aim to limit gatherings and encourage residents to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus. The entire state entered Tier 3 mitigation Friday at 12:01 a.m.

    "Tier 3 boils down to this: If you don't need to do it, don't," Pritzker said.

    The new Tier 3 restrictions close gaming and casinos, theaters, banquet halls and event spaces, cultural institutions like museums, prohibit indoor fitness classes and group sporting activities, and call on all workplaces to have as many employees work from home as possible.

    Already struggling retailers will be limited to 25% capacity, including big box stores with a grocery section. Traditional grocers are allowed to continue operating at 50% capacity.

    Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations took effect across Illinois Friday.

    Click here to read the complete set of Tier 3 Mitigations for all businesses in Illinois.

    "This is not a stay-at-home order, but the best way for us to avoid a stay-at-home order is to stay home," Pritzker said.

    Illinois Department of Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said she understands how Illinoisans are feeling but asked them to hold on.

    "I urge people to turn their frustration and their anger into something positive instead of trying to buck the mitigations can we all just follow them, acknowledging that these are what are needed to get back to some sense of normal," she said.

    Bars and restaurants remain limited to outdoor service, pickup and delivery only. Grocery stores can only operate at 50% capacity, gyms can only be open at 25% capacity with reservations, hotels are limited to registered guests, salons and other personal care services can only operate at 25% capacity, pharmacies at 50% capacity, non-essential retail at 25% capacity, and 10 person gathering limits are in place for outdoor sports and recreation.

    As cases surge across the state, college students are coming home for Thanksgiving break. University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones discussed the school's approach Friday.

    WATCH: University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones discusses college students heading home for Thanksgiving 2020

    University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones discussed college students heading home for Thanksgiving Friday morning.

    Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 120,284 tests, the most ever in one day. In total there have been 9,708,982 specimens tested since the start of the pandemic in Illinois.

    The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Nov. 14-20, dropped to 13.2%.

    As of Friday night, 6,175 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,173 patients were in the ICU with COVID-19 and 595 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

    Region 8, which includes DuPage and Kane counties, is now failing to meet the hospital bed availability threshold of 20%.

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

    The deaths reported Saturday include:

    - Adams County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s

    - Bureau County: 1 female 80s

    - Carroll County: 1 male 90s

    - Cass County: 1 female 90s

    - Champaign County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s

    - Cook County: 1 male 30s, 2 males 40s, 2 females 50s, 2 males 50s, 3 females 60s, 7 males 60s, 6 females 70s, 10 males 70s, 5 females 80s, 7 males 80s, 2 females 90s, 3 males 90s

    - DuPage County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s

    - Effingham County: 1 male 90s

    - Franklin County: 1 female 50s, 2 males 80s

    - Fulton County: 1 female 50s

    - JoDaviess County: 1 male 80s

    - Johnson County: 1 male 40s

    - Kane County: 1 female 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s

    - Kankakee County: 1 male 40s

    - Kendall County: 1 male 60s

    - Knox County: 1 female 80s

    - Lake County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s, 2 males 80s, 2 females 90s, 1 male 90s

    - LaSalle County: 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s

    - Logan County: 1 female 80s

    - Madison County: 2 females 80s, 1 female 90s

    - Mason County: 1 male 80s

    - McHenry County: 1 female 80s

    - Peoria County: 1 female 80s

    - Rock Island County: 1 female 60s

    - Saline County: 2 males 90s

    - Sangamon County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 70s

    - Shelby County: 1 male 80s

    - St. Clair County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s

    - Stephenson County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 70s

    - Tazewell County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s

    - Vermilion County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s

    - Warren County: 1 male 60s

    - Wayne County: 1 male 60s

    - Whiteside County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 90s

    - Will County: 1 male 60s, 3 females 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 males 80s