Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Tuesday that “significantly greater mitigations” could be imposed if COVID metrics don’t improve in the state after health officials flagged Lake and McHenry counties for rising hospitalizations.
“If we are not able to bring these numbers down, if hospitals continue to fill, if the hospital beds and ICUs get full like they are in Kentucky — that’s just next door to Illinois — if that happens, we’re going to have to impose significantly greater mitigations,” Pritzker said during a Tuesday press conference.
“I want to remind you we’ve already implemented a number of significant mitigations and we’re always looking if we need to impose more,” Pritzker added.
Pritzker said that some of the current mitigations currently in effect include the indoor mask mandate in schools, vaccine mandate for state employees in congregate settings, and mask mandate in state buildings.
Pritzker did not say specifically what those “significantly greater mitigations” are, but he did say he is “consistently looking at the menu of options that we may need to impose in order to bring down the numbers.”
Since Wednesday, Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry counties, has dipped below a 20% threshold set by the state for available ICU beds.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has also reported eight days of increases in COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized in the region.
Between Lake and McHenry counties, there are currently 102 patients with COVID-19 in the hospital.
Region 9, however, is still below the 8% threshold for test positivity.
The test positivity, ICU bed availability and COVID patients in the hospital are metrics used by IDPH and the governor to “identify early but significant increase of COVID-19 transmission in Illinois.”
“These indicators can be used to determine whether additional community mitigation interventions are needed for a region to control the further spread of COVID-19,” IDPH says.
Every county in Illinois, except Carroll County, is experiencing “high transmission” for COVID-19, according to the CDC.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded to the news of increasing hospitalizations on Tuesday by urging residents to get vaccinated.
“We have life-saving vaccines readily available in every corner of the state. If you’ve been on the fence about getting the shot, please talk to your doctor or your vaccinated friends and family. It’s not too late to save your life,” Pritzker said.
Also on Tuesday, the Lake County Health Department and McHenry County Department of Health issued a combined statement urging residents to get vaccinated.
“While it is important that we all take increased precautions during this time, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated,” said Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister. “The increases that we are seeing in hospitalizations and ICU bed use are being driven primarily by unvaccinated individuals.”
“We’re just a couple of months away from flu season. With COVID-19 cases increasing, we cannot afford to overburden our health care systems,” said MCDH Public Health Administrator Melissa Adamson.
“The recommendation to mask up will stay in place until we see a substantial drop in community transmission of COVID-19,” Adamson said.