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Illinois begins focusing more on COVID-19 hospitalization data as cases decline

Gov. JB Pritzker gives an update on the surge in COVID-19 cases during a news conference in Chicago.

CHICAGO — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is cautiously optimistic the Omicron wave of the pandemic has peaked.

Both hospitalizations and the number of people requiring intensive care have fallen daily over the last week.

“In the first two weeks of 2022, 14,000 new people have gotten their first vaccine dose every single day,” Pritzker said at a news conference. “That’s around 100,000 newly vaccinated people, about the population of Peoria, every week.”

Pritzker said he thinks some people who were adamantly against the vaccine are starting to change their minds.

The state is focusing more on hospitalization data and less on case numbers, in part, due to the increasing prevalence of at-home tests.

Such tests are part of the state’s arsenal in dealing with the next variant.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, also talked about genomic sequencing that will help identify the next variant, plus an infrastructure that makes vaccines and boosters free and easily available.

She said the state has systems in place to prepare for the next variant, but ultimately, it’s up to individuals.

“People have to get themselves ready just as they would for any natural disaster and that preparation involves getting boosted,” Ezike said. “You know, people who got one dose just to get the one dose, like, you are not fully prepared for the next variant.”

There were nearly 7,400 people across Illinois hospitalized with COVID on Jan. 12.

On Jan. 19, that number was just over 6,500.

Alex Degman covers Illinois state government for WBEZ and public radio stations across the state. Follow @Alex Degman

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Illinois Newsroom gets stories from public radio stations from across the state, including WBEZ-Chicago, WCBU-Peoria, WGLT-Normal, WVIK-Rock Island, WIUM-Macomb, WNIJ-DeKalb, WSIU-Carbondale, WUIS-Springfield, and St. Louis Public Radio.

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