CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker reiterated his call for residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as hospitals in the state are admitting record numbers of patients suffering from the disease.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,294 were hospitalized with COVID-related illness as of yesterday, the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
“The unvaccinated are the ones filling up 85% of our hospitals,” Pritzker said at a press conference Monday.
COVID-19 patients now occupy 25% of all in-use hospital beds in Illinois and account for 41% of patients in intensive care statewide.
“I’m here today to reiterate that we do have the tools” to fight the pandemic, Pritzker said.
As of Monday, Chicago will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor venues. That includes restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues like sport entertainment arenas. The rules apply to everyone age 5 and older, but doesn’t apply to those in the venue less than 10 minutes, like those getting takeout.
Pritzker is urging Illinois hospitals to delay elective surgeries and non-emergency procedures to keep more beds open, anticipating a wave of COVID-19 patients.
Also starting Monday, all Illinois Secretary of State offices, including driver services, will be closed until at least Jan. 18. Online transactions will remain open for all departments to conduct office services. All expiring driver’s license and ID card expiration dates have been extended to March 31, 2022.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized Pfizer booster shots for people aged 12 to 15 years, another expansion in the population eligible for the third shots.
The FDA also shortened the time for all adults to get their booster shots, down to five months from six months after the initial shots.
Finally, for children 5-11 years old, the FDA authorized a third shot for certain immunocompromised children, who it said might not respond fully to two shots.
A former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said a recent surge in coronavirus cases will make it difficult for schools to stay open for in-person instruction in the coming weeks.
“I think it’s going to make it challenging for many schools to stay open,” Richard Besser, the former director of the CDC and now the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in an appearance on NBC’s “Today.”