Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a fourth field hospital location for treating COVID-19 patients. Public health experts are expecting a surge in cases this month.
Pritzker said a facility in the Chicago suburb of Melrose Park will be able to house up to 230 patients, which would help relieve other medical facilities.
“These temporary facilities are meant to support, not replace, our existing medical infrastructure,” Pritzker said. “Patients will be directed first to existing hospitals, and if they are lower acuity, they will be transferred to these alternative sites.”
Three other locations, which include Chicago’s McCormick Place, will allow healthcare workers to care for several thousand more.
The governor said hospitals won’t be able to treat every infected patient in-house.
“Because of the lack of immunity in our population, there’s a greater risk of overwhelming our medical systems if too many systems get sick from it all at once.”
Meanwhile, Illinois Public Health Director Doctor Ngozi Ezike said about 50 percent of residents that have contracted COVID-19 so far have recovered. But that doesn’t mean efforts to combat the virus will be winding down.
”I’m sure that those numbers will only increase. That was just seven days after the positive test and 50 percent recovered. If we were to do 14 days after the diagnosis, you can imagine that those numbers would only grow.”
Illinois also received 15 COVID-19 tests from medical company Abbott Labs on Thursday. The company has said Illinois will be a “priority” in its distribution of those tests, which can provide results in as little as five minutes.
Pritzker also said additional beds are being added to existing institutions daily. About 26,000 non-ICU beds and 2600 ICU beds have been added across the state since March 24. That increase is designed to give healthcare workers more places to put COVID-19 patients.
While those workers have their hands full batting the virus, hundreds of thousands of other Illinoisans say they’re out of a job. Preliminary numbers from the US Department of Labor show 178,000 residents filed jobless claims just last week.
Many of those people have reported delays and other issues in filing claims. Pritzker has blamed outdated technology at the Department of Employment Security as a cause.
During a daily news conference, Pritzker reiterated his frustrations with the federal government. He said national leaders should have done more to prevent the pandemic from occurring.
“I take no pride in being earlier than others, but I’m honestly upset about the lack of early action on a national basis. This will go down in history as a profound failure of our national government.”
So far, 7,695 people have COVID-19 in Illinois, but since testing remains limited, many more may have the virus as well. The virus has so far claimed 157 lives across the state.