CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker said Illinois is sending 2,048 additional healthcare workers to hospitals in the state in danger of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
“This current wave of COVID is causing more people to get sick than ever before in the pandemic,” Pritzker said.
“We are really trying to pull on every lever to get help across the state to all of our hospitals,” added Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Just having a bed to lay on, but you don’t have the staff does not count as a bed that you can use.”
Pritzker said Illinois is accepting help from medical professionals across the country to bolster staffing numbers at hospitals and medical facilities reach full capacity in their intensive care wards.
“Even more personnel are being made available to individual hospitals that apply for federal assistance. So, the state is helping to expedite their applications,” Pritzker said.
The governor also made a plea to 8 million vaccinated Illinoisians to encourage hesitant friends and neighbors to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the state’s “On the Fence” awareness campaign.
The campaign, which includes new commercials and ad messaging, is designed to improve vaccination numbers as cases in the state surge.
Rockford is one of the cities benefitting from federal assistance, as Pritzker said that a dozen FEMA agents are already in the “Forest City” to support health systems.
“With unprecedented numbers of patients being hospitalized, we must do all that we can to keep all of our health care workers and institutions operating and available to all who need medical assistance,” Pritzker said.
Ezike said less than 1% of vaccinated people are currently being hospitalized for severe COVID-19 illness.
The governor also said the state remains committed to keeping children in school and is acquiring COVID-19 testing supplies and protective equipment to support teachers.
This all came as Illinois reported a record 7,100 people across the state who are hospitalized with COVID-19. Ezike said that increasing vaccination rates will be key to reversing the trend.
“I hear people say, ‘I know someone who had the vaccine and they still got sick,’ but please don’t equate someone with a cough, a runny nose, or a sore throat to someone having to be admitted to the hospital and need precious hospital resources,” Ezike said.
Ezike also urged everyone to consider getting their flu shot. She said that Illinois is below the national average in flu vaccination rates, which is also causing hospitalizations across the state.
Pritzker announced last Wednesday that was isolating after coming in contact with a state employee who tested positive for COVID-19.