Hospitals cope with a skyrocketing COVID-19 caseload as Tri-County region adds 1,800 cases in 2 days
The hospital systems serving the Tri-County are battling a massive COVID-19 surge as active cases in the region topped 5,000 this week for the first time in more than a year, with more than 1,800 new infections reported from Tuesday to Thursday.
OSF HeathCare and UnityPoint Health-Central Illinois say they are doing what they can to meet the needs of all their patients in response to Gov. JB Pritzker urging hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries and other procedures to prepare for a likely surge of post-holiday omicron patients.
The three Tri-County health departments reported close to 100 hospitalizations for COVID-19 this week, including 89 in Peoria County alone on Thursday.
Dr. Mike Cruz, chief operating officer for OSF HealthCare, said COVID-19 is more widespread than ever in the communities they serve.
“We are currently managing to serve people coming to us for care, and OSF HealthCare has a variety of options if we face an expected post-holiday influx, including but not limited to, delaying some non-emergency procedures and surgeries,” Cruz said in a statement.
“We join with the governor and the state public health director in urging people to get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask, carefully consider how and when you gather, wash your hands and keep your distance in public places.”
In its statement provided to WCBU, UnityPoint Health-Central Illinois stressed getting the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters is the best way the community can ease the burden on the health care system.
“UnityPoint Health-Central Illinois has been continually evaluating hospital capacity, resources, and non-urgent surgical cases,” the statement read. “Our providers are working with our patients to give them the best and safest care possible and have postponed some non-urgent procedures. We are keeping the best interests of our patients in mind and doing all we can to ensure we are able to care for our communities.
“We continue to urge all individuals ages 5 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible and encourage adults to receive their booster. COVID-19 vaccines are readily available, safe and highly effective in preventing serious illness and death. It is crucial that everyone get vaccinated as soon as possible to help end this pandemic.”
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), hospitals across Region 2 — which includes the Tri-County, Bloomington-Normal, and the Quad Cities — started the day on Thursday with 27 available ICU beds out of a possible 253.
The area’s total case count of 68,619 as of Thursday represents an increase of more than 6,400 in just two weeks. The region’s death toll from the pandemic stood at 926 as of Wednesday, with 35 fatalities added in the past 14 days.
The Tazewell County Health Department reported 451 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, but was not able to provide hospitalization or home isolation counts. The department said those figures would be unavailable until further notice, citing the high volume of cases.
Peoria County saw an increase of 417 cases from Wednesday to Thursday, while Woodford County gained 117 positives. As of Wednesday, the Tri-County’s active caseload was up to 5,180, the most since Dec. 28, 2020 (5,865).
Updated IDPH vaccination data shows the Tri-County with 55% of the population fully vaccinated, and 59.1% of residents having received at least one shot.