UPDATED: Illinois will remain under tier 3 covid mitigations for at least two to three more weeks, and could elevate to a more restrictive level if numbers get worse, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said during his press conference today.

Illinois covid numbers leapt back up after a few days of numbers getting better. After yesterday’s report of just 6,190 new cases, today’s report listed 12,542 new cases in Illinois and 125 new deaths over the past 24 hours. It should be noted that today marks six days from “Blackout Wednesday,” that traditional unofficial day of inebriation prior to Thanksgiving when college kids return home from campus to hit local bars, and covid contracted on that day would be starting to show up around now.

The mitigations were put in place Nov. 20, and some regions of Illinois had seen a positive upturn in regard to covid numbers, however, with various doctors including Dr. Anthony Fauci saying a “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus is likely in the coming weeks due to increased travel and social interactions during Thanksgiving weekend, Pritzker said tier 3 restrictions will remain statewide even if a region qualifies

Despite experts’ advice, more than three million people traveled by airline over the holiday weekend.

for them to be lifted.

“We are still very much in a precarious place and we have got to take the time to evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments,” Pritzker said.

Millions of people ignored CDC protocols, doctors’ advice and experts’ warnings prior to the Thanksgiving holidays, as evidenced by the more than three million people who traveled across the country, according to the TSA, leading to a pessimistic view of the next few weeks in regard to cases, according to IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Pritzker said he consulted with Fauci, the Illinois Department of Public Health, as well as Dr. Rob Murphy at Northwestern Medicine and Dr. Emily Landon at U of C Medicine in making the decision.

“We have got to take the time to evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments,” Pritzker emphasized. “I spoke with Dr. Fauci last week, and he said the massive number of indoor gatherings will likely bring another post-Thanksgiving surge, and this is no time to pull back on mitigations.”

Dr. Ezike recommended that people who visited someone’s home last week get tested for COVID-19 later this week.

“It is recommend to wait about six or seven days after exposure to be tested but if you do have symptom please get tested right away,” Ezike said.

“When the nations experts and state experts agree the virus may become more pervasive in the coming weeks, it’s time to listen to them, and I am,” Pritzker said. “That’s why I’m keeping all mitigations in place. The hope is that we can fend off the surge in the next few weeks so that we can get to a better time in late December.

“Our collective prayer is that everyone stays healthy and that the numbers continue their downward trajectory,” Pritzker added. “My hope is that the public joins us in making that prayer come true.”

On a local level, on Sunday it was reported that the Quad-Cities has reached the “severe” covid outbreak stage, according to the latest statistics from the Illinois and Iowa Departments of Health and Covid Act Now, a not-for-profit national data aggregation website affiliated with the medical departments of Stanford, Harvard and Georgetown Universities.

Both Scott and Rock Island Counties have spiked up to the “severe outbreak” level, counting cases over the past few days, but NOT including outbreaks expected to bump up after last week’s Thanksgiving social activity trifecta of Black Out Wednesday, Thanksgiving Day Thursday and Black Friday.

All experts have agreed that cases will likely spike up this week as infections spread during those three days of increased socialization begin to manifest and infected people head to hospitals for testing and treatment.

As of Sunday, positivity rates were 22.4 in Rock Island County and 25.8 in Scott County, far above the rate of 12 percent positivity required to roll back Tier 3 mitigation.

With covid-19 cases spiking throughout the state, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker put in place the new restrictions on Nov. 20, mentioning not just the rapid spread in terms of covid infections but their impact upon hospitals and people who may need the hospitals for other health emergencies.

Iowa reported its highest death toll from covid over the past week, even after Governor Kim Reynolds had put in place additional mitigation procedures on Nov. 17.

Iowa covid-19 numbers are soaring to record rates, on pace for a “100 percent infection rate” for the state, according to numbers from the Iowa Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Covid Act Now, a not-for-profit data aggregation center affiliated with the medical departments of Harvard, Stanford and Georgetown Universities.

However, there is some good news on the local front.

Genesis Health System Hospital has begun administering the recently approved monoclonal antibody treatment known as Bamlanivimab for targeted, high-risk COVID-19-positive patients in Scott County and the surrounding areas.

“With the surge taking place in Iowa right now and being a national hotspot for COVID, the timing is good and this gives us a little more ammunition in our fight against the virus in our community,” said Kurt Andersen, M.D., Senior Vice President of Physician Operations and Chief Medical Officer. “This could reduce the need for hospital stays and trips to the emergency room — which could put less strain on our healthcare resources.”

On Nov. 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the use of Bamlanivimab to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older, weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds), and who are at high-risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

In clinical trials, Bamlanivimab was shown to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients who presented a high probability of potential disease progression, according to the FDA.

Bamlanivimab is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy because of COVID-19 illness.

“I am proud of our team to get this clinic up and running so quickly, and the innovative care we are able to provide right here in our own community. However, the supply we have at this time is limited, so the number of doses we be determined by those who are at high-risk for severe disease and/or hospitalization. We anticipate that our supply will increase in the coming weeks as the company increases their production of the drug,” said Dr. Andersen.

High-risk factors include obesity, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, respiratory disease or aged 65 years and older. Those comorbid conditions are listed in the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization at https://www.fda.gov/media/143605/download

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.