Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike are holding daily COVID-19 press briefings as cases and hospitalizations in Illinois reach record highs. Read and listen to the latest update from the governor’s office on new cases, phased re-opening and closings of different regions and the state’s ongoing pandemic response. You can watch the most recent press briefings at 2:30pm every day here on Illinois Newsroom.
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Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the COVID-19 update for Wednesday, December the second. Today marks a solemn milestone, with 238 lives lost to COVID-19 reported in the last 24 hours. We have far surpassed our previous single day high report of 191 fatalities in mid May. And while it’s likely that some of this increase can be attributed to a data lag from the holiday weekend, we also know that higher case numbers, and higher numbers of hospitalizations do lead to tragically, even more lives lost. And we’ve surpassed the spring records by the thousands. In recent weeks. We’ll continue to watch these numbers closely in the coming weeks to have a better picture of our trajectory. But a life lost reported late following a holiday is still life lost. To those 238 sets of families, friends and loved ones, as well as the thousands more who preceded them. I offer my sincerest and my deepest condolences. This pandemic stole someone from your lives too soon. May their memories be for blessing. This virus is a killer. Let’s honor those that it has taken by doing everything that we can to prevent more people from getting sick and dying. Wear your mask, keep your distance. Stay home whenever you can.
We’ll get through this. Today I want to focus on our health care workers. Doctors and nurses are the first people that we tend to think about when the media focuses on our healthcare heroes. But it goes so much deeper than that. Respiratory Therapists, EMTs housekeepers, Operating Engineers, food service workers, janitors, and administrative assistance. These are the people who are essential to caring for COVID-19 patients who come into our hospitals in need of medical treatment. Sometimes these are the people who keep patients company in their last hours of life. Today, I want to put names and stories to those titles to remind us of the people who are on the front lines. The people that you’re keeping safe when you wear a mask, and you slow the spread of this virus. People like Pam more the housekeeping leader at Catherine Shaw, but they a hospital in Lee County. Pam tirelessly leads her staff through the task of cleaning COVID-19 occupied rooms, from the emergency department to the operating room, making sure that everyone has the proper peepee and making it possible for the next patient to safely use that room. And remember, often these housekeepers are going into rooms when the patient is still in them, meaning that they’re one of the limited faces that a patient might have contact with, while actively battling COVID-19 in Centralia, Illinois at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.
That face might be Patty box, an environmental services associate housekeeping trainer and she’s the first person in the department to clean a covid positive room. In the words of her director, quote, I couldn’t have been prouder of the way she’s been present and compassionate for her patients. And while Patty was nervous the first time that she went into a covid positive room, she did it all the same, knowing that this patient that every patient deserves the same clean and safe environment that every other patient deserves. Or Sarah sama mo Hannon, a respiratory therapist at Amida health saints sorry Health St. Mary’s and Elizabeth Medical Center in Cook County, one of Chicago’s largest safety net hospitals. Sara Salma is known as someone who never complains, and who always performs well above expectations, even if it means being the closest person to a positive patient, as being a respiratory therapist often demands. They’re often the first ones to be called by nurses when a patient is having trouble breathing. They know more about oxygen and breathing support and ventilators than most others in the hospital. They weren’t Complex machines use suction to remove obstructive secretions from an airway, take patients off of ventilators and in many hospitals, they even position the breathing tube in the first place. That means that respiratory therapists like Sarah sama, are probably doing more than most, and going into more COVID-19 patient rooms than just about anybody else. Or people like Eric trichur, Vice President for supply chain and logistics at University of Chicago medicine. Eric was, has been working around the clock really since January, when the hospital first stood up its hospital incident command system to ensure the supply of personal protective equipment. Eric spearheaded numerous initiatives to ensure that staff had access to protective equipment including UV re sterilization of N 95 masks, stocking strategies to reduce unnecessary burn rates of critical items and sourcing strategies to ensure distribution of critical inventory.
His efforts and that of his team prevented exposures of hospital personnel and protected the health and the safety of all individuals across their entire health system. And Terry McCreary infection preventionist at OSF healthcare is St. Mary’s Medical Center in Galesburg. Terri educates others on how to best prevent the spread of covid 19 within the facility, and she and her husband donated over 500 heartseeker t shirts to nurses to lift up their spirits. When COVID-19 first appeared in March of this year. Terri Eric, Sarah sama, Patty and Pam, all of them didn’t ring in the new year on January 1 2020. Thinking that they would spend it working double shifts multiple days a week in the middle of the worst health crisis in over a century. They too have families they worry about. They too, are exhausted. They too wish that they could take off their mask, as they leave the hospital go out to eat with family and friends in a room full of strangers, or just hug their relatives without worry are public health mitigations are meant to keep our hospitals and our hospital personnel from being overrun by COVID-19 patients. The best way to protect the people who take care of us when we get sick, is to wear a mask. Keep your distance wash your hands and get your flu shot. It’s our individual responsibility to get ourselves through this without getting the virus. So Terry and Eric and Sarah sama and Patti and Pam can get through this too. So thank you. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ghazi and ck
Dr. Ngozi Ezike
Hello, good afternoon. Governor Pritzker, thank you for being guided by science and data throughout this pandemic, and it’s been a hard nine months for everyone. But if we all remain committed to following the guidance from the CDC and other experts, we will be successful in this fight against COVID-19. Dr. Fauci said towards the beginning of this pandemic that the true opposing force to the novel coronavirus was us and this was, again early in the pandemic when we were still learning so much about the severity and the treatments and the virus itself. But recently, he said there’s a new opposing force to this deadly virus, and that is the vaccine. outbreaks of diseases like polio like smallpox, measles, those have been eradicated due to vaccines. Vaccines are the best invention and medicine of the 20th century. With COVID-19 its eradication is dependent on those who are able to get vaccinated to truly be protected and then get back to normal. Until then, we have to continue to practice our three W’s each and every day, especially throughout the upcoming holidays. Please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. These mitigation measures do work.
In the last 24 hours over 85,000 tests have been reported for a total of 10 point 6 million tests performed in Illinois. 9757 individuals were newly diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 748,600 Three total individuals in the state of Illinois diagnosed with COVID-19. Unfortunately, as the governor mentioned 238 lives were reported lost to idph in the in the last 24 hours for a total of 12,639 deaths in the hospitals overnight across our state 5764. Were in beds with COVID-19. And of those 1190 were in the ICU and of those 714. Were on ventilators. Let’s not make this holiday season anyone’s last holiday season. Let’s stay the course and fight for everyone’s life. We can all enjoy together and safely. Let’s make the holidays less harrowing, not just for the people who might end up sick and in the hospital with COVID or non COVID illnesses, but also for the staff that will tend to all those COVID as well as non COVID patients. I asked every Illinois to do their part in getting through this pandemic. We’ve already lost too many lives. Yes, we’ve lost our normalcy, but we shouldn’t lose hope. We’ll work together and we will prevent the spread of this virus. And we can do that by masking up washing up and backing up. Thank you.
I’d like to introduce our next speaker coming to us live from Metro East nearest St. Louis, as the hospitalist medical director at Anderson hospital, Dr. Christopher R. has seen firsthand the impact of COVID-19 on his hospital, and their ability to serve all patients COVID-19 and otherwise, throughout this pandemic, he’s here to remind all of us that our amazing hospital systems are not quite infinite. And we’ve got to do our best to reduce the spread by staying home as they can do their jobs and so they can save lives. Dr. Ferrar I’d like to turn it over to you.
Dr. Christopher Farrar
Hello, thank you for inviting me to speak today the governor’s press conference regarding the covid 19 pandemic. I’m Dr. Christopher Farrar. I’m a graduate Dartmouth Medical School and a Board Certified physician internal medicine. I’ve been practicing medicine for over 20 years and I’m currently the hospital’s medical director at Anderson hospital located in Maryville, Illinois, in the metro East St. Louis area. At Anderson hospital around our region, we’re seeing a large spike in cases of COVID-19. This has translated into into increasing hospitalizations and deaths. Make no mistake, this is a terrible disease that can affect so many different organ systems causing pain and suffering and last week’s long term impact on the human body is yet unknown. This recent spike in cases has put a strain on the number of available hospital beds, and in particular ICU beds, which could impact the care of patients, including those who have non COVID life threatening illnesses. As a provider on the frontlines of this pandemic. I’ve witnessed the misery and death as virus inflicts on my patients and the emotional toll of families. Because the COVID-19 families now are no longer able to visit their loved ones in the hospital.
We are now having emotional phone calls for families providing treatment updates and discussing options including end of life care. I team and I’ve cared for many patients with COVID-19, some of them have been lost this disease. Despite the strain of my medical staff, we continue to provide exceptional care to our patients. As a medical director, I have the honor and privilege of working with an extraordinary group of caring, compassionate providers. These are extremely challenging times. Anderson hospital has met this challenge through the hard work and dedication of our healthcare family, by providers in the hospital staff has stepped up to take on this new wave of COVID-19 cases. And I want to assure the public that we as health care providers will continue to help support and care for you and your loved ones if the need arises. I would like to emphasize please do all you can to prevent this knee from arising. I would ask the public please use the recommended public health measures of mass wearing and washing and social distancing, to ensure that you and your families stay safe and healthy, which in turn reduce the strain on the medical community. I’d like to thank the governor and his staff for their leadership during this unprecedented global crisis. And now I’d like to ask governor Pritchard back to the podium for questions from the press. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Dr. Ferrara. And I just want to say what a great hospital Anderson hospital is and what great job they are serving the people of Metro east, they’ve been partners in our dealing with COVID-19 from the very, very beginning. Our pandemic response could not have been as strong as it is without Dr. Ferrara and his cohort at Anderson hospital and I just again want to express my gratitude to him