Chloe Schobert | @chlo_scho_art
The most recent wave of positive COVID-19 cases has eclipsed previous totals, approaching triple the highest number of recorded cases in past waves.
On January 6, 2022 the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recorded 44,089 positive COVID cases around the state, yet another record breaking day in a two week period of steadily increasing COVID cases.
In Jackson County, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recorded 760 positive COVID cases between December 29, 2021 and January 4, 2022.
Amid the skyrocketing case numbers around the state, Southern Illinois University will conduct the majority of classes virtually for the first week of the Spring semester.
[See More: COVID-19 prompts SIU to change how spring classes will start; many to go temporarily virtual]
The previous high water mark in the COVID-19 pandemic occurred between November 1, 2020 and January 23, 2021 when IDPH consistently recorded over 5,000 daily positive cases, reaching what at the time was a record high of 17,608 on November 5, 2020.
On December 23, 2021, IDPH recorded what was at the time another record high number of positive cases, 18,942.
Positive cases numbers have continued to shoot upward, and record breaking totals were recorded In 5 of the last 14 days.
At the same time, hospitals continue to experience staffing issues.
Across the state, 8.9% of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were available at the time of publication. According to IDPH data, open ICU bed capacity around the state is typically closer to 30%.
In Region 5, which includes Jackson County, just 2 ICU beds were recorded as available at the time of publication.
“We are always close to capacity in our ICUs across the SIH [Southern Illinois Healthcare] system and that remains unchanged,” said SIH Lead Communications Coordinator Rosslind Rice in a December 29 email. “We continue to see inpatient Covid hospitalizations in addition to other hospitalizations for severe illness unrelated to Covid.”
The primary staffing shortfall is related to testing, Rice said, with the system short of people to administer test swabs, assess lab results and communicate with patients.
SIH recorded 63 COVID positive patients across all hospitals as of midnight on January 5, 2022.
Nine people in the SIH system died due to COVID between December 26, 2021 and January 1, 2022.
CDC officials recommended vaccinations, wearing masks in indoor public spaces, avoiding crowds and getting tested before attending indoor gatherings to mitigate the spread of COVID, according to a press release.
68% of Illinois residents over 5 years old and about 75% of residents over 18 years old have been fully vaccinated, according to IDPH.
Staff reporter Jason Flynn can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 872-222-7821 or on Twitter at @dejasonflynn. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.