CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 44,089 new COVID cases and 104 related deaths Thursday. That's the largest one-day increase in new cases on record, which was previously 32,279 on Wednesday.
There have been 2,339,534 total COVID cases, including 28,260 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
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The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 18.6%.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 247,830 new specimens for a total of 45,758,467 since the pandemic began.
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As of Wednesday night, 7,098 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,119 patients were in the ICU and 646 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
On Rush University Medical Center's dedicated COVID floor, beds are full and doctors are getting ready to use a previously developed surge plan.
"We know we haven't gotten to our peak and so we are preparing for that with what we call our surge plan," said Dr. Susan Lopez.
The surge plan includes converting the hospital atrium into emergency room triage for COVID patients and using beds in different departments. Even though they are yet to hit their peak, Rush's dedicated COVID floor is full.
"We are now up to three floors, three units, and COVID patients are scattered throughout the hospital," Lopez said.
Three weeks ago about 50 COVID patients were hospitalized at Rush. Today it's more than 140. Whether in the ICU or on regular COVID floors, Lopez said the majority of the patients are unvaccinated.
"The patients that are vaccinated are patients that are immunocompromised or with low immune systems, our cancer patients," she said.
Lopez is recovering from COVID herself. She hopes the trend of more patients in regular hospital rooms than the ICU continues, and said patients who are younger tend be there for just a couple days versus older patients who on average stay for about three weeks.
"Most of them need oxygen or maybe have stress on their kidneys, we are still doing the treatments that work," Lopez said.
Though they are preparing to implement their surge plan, doctors and nurses at Rush are confident there will be enough beds to handle the latest wave. When the hospital was built in 2012, it was specifically designed to accommodate mass casualties.
A total of 19,475,871 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Thursday, and 60.84% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 43,690.