CHICAGO, Ill. – While the number of new COVID-19 cases has been significantly lower over the last few days, the Pritzker administration is preparing for a possible surge due to Thanksgiving gatherings. Testing sites closed for the holiday and fewer people utilized them over the weekend. However, medical experts warn of a significant spike in the coming weeks.
Gov. JB Pritzker emphasized Monday that the number of Illinoisans hospitalized for COVID-19 is still 25% higher than hospitalizations during the peak this spring. Currently, 5,849 people remain hospitalized for COVID-19. Of those, 1,217 patients are in the ICU and 715 are on ventilators.
Pritzker fears another surge could overwhelm the state’s healthcare system. Now, he’s keeping the current Tier 3 mitigations in place for a few more weeks, even if a region is on track to meet the metrics.
“We are still very much in a precarious place,” Pritzker noted. “And we have got to take the time to evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci told Pritzker that he believes this is no time to pull back on mitigations. The governor hopes Illinois can avoid the surge and residents can enjoy a healthier holiday season.
Testing after gatherings
While Pritzker and IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike pleaded with residents to stay home for Thanksgiving, many people decided to travel and join their extended families in person. Dr. Ezike urged anyone who spent the holiday with non-immediate family to wait for a test until later this week.
“It is recommended to wait about six or seven days after exposure to get tested,” Ezike explained. “But, if you have symptoms, please get tested right away. In the meantime, please exercise the cautions that we’re always supposed to be following.”
Ezike says there is hope on the horizon with recent news of a vaccine. However, she stressed residents must still practice vigilance with social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands often.
“If we stay the course yet a while longer, we will end this pandemic soon,” Ezike added.