Illinois COVID-19 hospitalization record ‘smashed’, Pritzker says help on the way

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced help for overwhelmed hospitals as Illinois sets a new record for hospitalizations.

Even in the darkest days of the pandemic, Illinois hospitals have never had this many COVID patients.

"This is the absolute highest number and not just by a couple. Our previous totals have been smashed," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of Illinois Department of Public Health.

As of Tuesday night, more than 7,200 COVID patients were hospitalized, breaking the old record by more than a thousand. 

"Pretty soon we're not going to have staff to take care of you in the hospital if all of our staff is also out with COVID 19," said Dr. Shikha Jain, University of Illinois at Chicago

Pritzker says the state is deploying more than 2,000 health care workers to hospitals in need. 


Plus, they're creating COVID reaction teams with about 575 additional workers and loosening rules so health care workers from others states or countries can help out. 

"We have beds, like the physical bed and a room but if you don't have any staff, that's a useless location," said Pritzker.

"I was on a call with all the chief medical officers of the hospitals across the state today. They are all crying the same thing. They all need help," added Dr. Ezike.

Once again, Dr. Ezike is stressing the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted.

"I hear people say, oh, I know someone I know someone who had the vaccine and they still got sick. But please don't equate someone with a cough, runny nose or sore throat to someone having to be admitted into the hospital and the precious hospital resources," said Ezike.

Ezike says out of the millions of vaccinated people in Illinois, less than one tenth of one percent end up in the hospital. But of those crowding the hospitals now, more than 80 percent are unvaccinated.

And she's not sure the Omicron surge has peaked.