Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike hold a press conference on Wednesday regarding the latest COVID-19 surge. | Provided Photo

Gov. JB Pritzker announced he is deploying over 2,000 health care workers to Illinois hospitals to deal with record COVID-19 hospitalizations, which he called “unprecedented.”

Pritzker held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest COVID-19 surge.

“With record COVID hospitalizations here and across the nation, the most important strategy that we’re following is to make vaccinations, boosters and masks as widely available and utilized as possible,” Pritzker said.

“This current wave of COVID is causing more people to get sick than ever before in the pandemic. And the vast majority of the serious illnesses and deaths are among the unvaccinated,” he said.

To expand the number of staffed hospital beds, Pritzker said 2,048 healthcare workers are being deployed across the state.

919 of them are currently on-site supporting hospitals “hit hard by COVID” and 552 are arriving at hospitals by next Friday.

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Pritzker said the state has created COVID reaction teams to respond quickly to emerging crises at hospitals and other health care facilities.

Those teams have 237 health care workers in the field already and another 340 arriving over the next 10 days.

Additional personnel is also being made available to individual hospitals that apply for federal assistance. A dozen personnel were sent to the Rockford region on Wednesday by the federal government.

Pritzker also said on Wednesday that the “best place for kids right now is in the classroom.” He said he is pleased that students in Chicago Public Schools are back in the classroom.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during the press conference that it is too soon to tell if Illinois has reached the peak of its latest COVID surge.

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She said only 9% of intensive care unit beds in the state are currently available. State data shows 7,219 people are in the hospital with COVID-19.

The data does not show what percentage of those people are in the hospital for COVID-19 versus those whose main reason for hospitalization is unrelated to their COVID-19 diagnosis.