BREAKING: Illinois Decimates Covid Record, Over 30,000 Cases Today; Will Kids Return To School?
BREAKING NEWS: Illinois has absolutely decimated the daily record for covid cases, with a stunning 30,386 cases over the last 24 hours, according to numbers just released by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Given that children’s cases and hospitalizations are likewise spiking, some are speculating about whether or not Illinois schools will return as scheduled to in-person learning next week, or if they’ll go to remote learning at least until the latest surge has passed.
The whopping 30,386 cases over the past 24 hours obliterated the previous record of 21,131 in one day set on Christmas Eve, as well as the 21,098 cases announced for Wednesday and reported on QuadCities.com.
Hospitalizations and deaths are likewise skyrocketing, as 87 new deaths were confirmed, and 5,689 covid patients were listed as occupying the state’s hospital beds. The vast majority of the patients, over 90 percent, were unvaccinated. Officials urge people to get vaccinated against the virus, especially as the virulent omicron variant sweeps across the country.
“All of this is due to Omicron,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a press conference livestream today. “I remain very worried about this steep increase that we’re seeing, especially in the unvaccinated, and of course I’m worried for the people who are vaccinated and boosted who are … still getting sick and getting admitted. But the most important thing for us to prevent deaths, prevent hospitalizations and protect our health care system is to have fewer people in that red category [of] unvaccinated Chicagoans.”
“If we are forced to move to a crisis standard of care in our hospitals, it will be because massive numbers of unvaccinated people chose to let others go without quality care, and even more people will die,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said during his news conference Monday.
Statewide, Illinois covid-19 numbers continued to soar as the state roared by the 20,000-case barrier for the fourth time in seven days, and children’s cases and hospitalizations are hitting new highs as schools get ready to resume in-person classes next week.
More children are being hospitalized for covid throughout Illinois. Pediatric hospitalizations are rising nationwide, and Illinois is one of the top five states in terms of the worst numbers, joining Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
“So, we have seen that [increase] in some other states very clearly,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Monday. “We’re still looking at our numbers. I have anecdotally talked to many pediatricians who are heads of departments or hospitals who are seeing that there is an increase, so we are going to continue to follow those numbers.”
“We’ve seen our biggest numbers in since the pandemic started actually,” Dr. Michael Cappello, vice chairman for Advocate Children’s Hospital in Chicago told Chicago’s NBC-TV5.
The skyrocketing numbers overall, and particularly the spiking numbers among children, have caused many to speculate about whether children will return to in-person schooling next week, as some school districts have already announced they will be switching to remote learning.
Buffalo Tri-City School District in central Illinois has gone to remote learning through at least Jan. 10.
Virginia School District in central Illinois has announced it will go to remote learning as well, as schools in that district have 32.9 percent of students testing positive for covid or having had close exposure to someone with the virus.
In addition, Pike County’s Pleasant Hill School district in central Illinois is also going remote, due to an outbreak of cases of both covid and the flu.
Several colleges across the state announced they’ll be going to remote learning at least to begin the next semester in January. Northwestern, DePaul and University of Chicago in Cook County will all begin as remote learning, as will University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign in downstate Champaign and Illinois State University. In addition, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has told students, faculty and staff that they must test negative for covid-19 within 48 hours of returning to campus, including those who have been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated will have to continue to be tested weekly.
This week, Chicago Public School district CEO Pedro Martinez reiterated that his district, the largest in the state, will not close down unless there is a citywide order requiring it.
“I want to be clear, our plans are to have our schools open on Jan. 3, our plans are to welcome our children for in-person instruction,” Martinez said at a news conference last week at City Hall. “But I need your help. I need the help of our families. We’ve been trying to make sure we ensure as much as we can that we can have a state opening back after break.”
Locally, Rock Island Milan School District 41 also plans to return to in-person learning Jan. 4. They announced on their website today, “In the midst of growing concerns about the Omicron variant and high levels of spread in Rock Island County, the school district is still going to be in compliance with masking, social distancing, keeping classrooms clean and sanitized when students return to school on Tuesday, January 4.”
For ongoing coverage of this situation, continue to follow QuadCities.com.