CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 32,279 new COVID cases and 80 related deaths Wednesday. That's the largest one-day increase in new cases on record, which was previously 31,461 on Dec. 31, 2021.
There have been 2,295,445 total COVID cases, including 28,156 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
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The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 18.4%, the highest figure reported since reporting began in Oct. 2020.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 205,225 new specimens for a total of 45,510,637 since the pandemic began.
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As of Tuesday night, 6,842 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1135 patients were in the ICU and 663 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
In southwest suburban New Lenox, Silver Cross Hospital has no available ICU beds. Doctors there have had to make changes to keep up with the surge and the impact it's having on staff, patients and families.
From the COVID floor to the Intensive Care Unit, every room at Silver Cross is occupied. As of Wednesday, there are 139 COVID patients at the Will County hospital.
"That is the highest we have had yet to date, it has surpassed every wave we've had before," said Dr. Chris Udovich, chief medical officer at Silver Cross.
Three ICU beds have been created in the emergency room. The challenging situation has forced Udovich to shut down elective surgeries for two weeks in order to open up surgical areas to house patients.
"Not to mention we have staff that is sick as well so staffing challenges that have presented as well," Udovich said.
Silver Cross has also enacted a no-visitor policy. Steve Lisanski was leaving the hospital after dropping off gifts for his mother's 73rd birthday. He said she was just placed in hospice for a non-COVID related illness.
"This will probably be her last birthday," Lisanski said. "I can't even give her a hug."
Lisanski said he doesn't blame the hospital for the policy. He's angry about low vaccination rates, and doctors say almost all of COVID patients here are unvaccinated.
"The only difference now is it is younger people," said Dr. Atul Gupta, medical director of infection prevention at Silver Cross. "We far seeing a lot of people in the 30-50 range. Of those patients, especially the unvaccinated in that group who are doing very poorly, end up in the ICU with bad outcomes."
Amita Health's St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet is also experiencing a record number of COVID patients, most of whom are unvaccinated. Lisanski, who hopes to see his mother before she dies, has a message for Will County residents.
"Get vaccinated," Lisanski said. "Be a hero to the heroes, that's all I'm asking."
While stretched thin, doctors at Silver Cross said they are not turning patients away and are handling the case load for COVID and non COVID patients. But, they are asking people with medical issues to consult with your primary care doctor first before coming to an emergency room, unless it's a dire emergency.
A total of 19,417,187 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Wednesday, and 60.78% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 45,297.
The Sun-Times Media report contributed to this post.