CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker suggested the omicron surge in Illinois may have crested and now appears to be declining, saying the state has seen several days of steadily declining new infections.
“You don’t know when a surge has reached its peak until you’re on the other side of it. Today is our 7th day since we saw peak hospitalizations,” Pritzker said. “I want to be clear, I am cautiously optimistic about this decline, but there are an awful lot of people still battling for their lives in hospitals across Illinois.”
Pritzker said hospitalizations within the past 7 days have fallen by 11.8% since the pandemic peak of 7,380 on January 15th, and said ICU and ventilator usage has also started to fall.
The governor also said it wasn’t testing numbers that health officials were concerned about as much as hospital capacity.
Pritzker echoes a report by Chicago’s top doctor Wednesday, who said that the nation’s third-largest city has passed the peak of the omicron-fueled wave but hospitals are still being stretched and the number of new daily COVID-19 infections remain high.
“We are a long way from being out of the woods,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference. “The threat is in no way over, but the news is good in terms of the direction that it’s turning.”
Pritzker again urged unvaccinated residents to protect themselves against the virus.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, decried certain pop-up testing sites following claims those run by Centers for Covid Control shut down after being plagued by complaints, saying, “There are fly by night testing operations, and we need to make sure we are keeping those away from people looking for a legitimate test, and if we can shut those down we will.”
Pop-up testing sites, such as those offering raid testing, are not regulated by Illinois or the federal government. Illinois does run its own testing sites statewide.
Ezike said the IDPH and the Governor’s staff were watching the downward trends and would make updates on masking guidance in the future if current trends continue. Ezike said readily available vaccines and upcoming therapeutics would allow Illinois to pivot to “coexist with the virus.”