Brief: Low-to-no ICU bed capacity “should scare people” 

As of 3:34PM on Sept. 15 there were two Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds available in Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Region 5, which includes Jackson County, Hospital Coordinating Center Manager Arien Herrmann said.

“That could change […] as hospitals go back in to do their evening updates,” Herrmann said. “The fact that we’re the only region out of 11 that is in single digits I think is very telling.” 

IDPH reported zero available beds available at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. 


“At midnight last night there was 527 open ICU beds across the entire state. None of them were in southernmost Illinois, and I think that should scare people,” Herrmann said. 

The ICU availability metric reflects the number of beds that have available working staff, Hermann said, as there are more open rooms and equipment available than staff available to operate rooms or equipment. 

 “Right now, that [labor] is our limiting factor. It’s not space in the hospitals. It’s not equipment. It’s not medication. It’s having enough staff to appropriately, you know, man all of these rooms,” Herrmann

According to Jackson County Health Department records there were 326 confirmed cases of COVID between Sept 4 and Sept. 11. There were 1,662 confirmed cases from Aug. 8 through Sept. 11. 

According to the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale COVID database, there were 25 positive cases among students and staff from Sept. 6  through 12. There have been 117 positive COVID cases confirmed since Aug. 9, according to the database. 

The high levels of COVID cases have driven Region 5 health officials to make adjustments, such as sending ventilators to “critical access hospitals,” or certain rural hospitals, that would normally transfer patients to a High Acuity Unit (HAU), that would provide closer monitoring, Herrmann said.  

Hospitals have had staff take on more advanced roles after “just-in-time training” such as advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) taking over the roles of a full paramedic. 


“I don’t think that people should be concerned that they’re not going to be cared for,” Herrmann said.  “I think people just have to understand that as long as we have this additional burden on the healthcare system, people may not get optimal care.” 

Starting Sept. 20 JCHD will require an appointment for vaccinations, according to a press release

Sept. 19 is the deadline for higher education facility attendees and employees to confirm they’ve been vaccinated, or are in compliance with mandated weekly testing per an order by Gov. JB Pritzker. 

According to the SIU-C COVID dashboard 5907 students and staff have been vaccinated. 

“I think people will become accustomed to living with COVID-19, and the naysayers, hopefully, you know, will cut their nonsense. Get on board with the program,” Herrmann said. “We’re never going to get back to normal. That ship has sailed, you know, but we’re going to get back to a level of comfort that our economy can move on, our society can move on.”

News Editor Jason Flynn can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @dejasonflynn. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.