CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois reported a record 32,279 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the most ever reported in the state in a single day, as hospitalizations from the virus also set a record for the third day in a row.
The previous record for daily infections was the 31,461 new cases reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported 2,295,445 total cases of COVID-19, including 28,156 deaths.
The state's average daily case rate is up to 25,183 new cases per day, the highest average since the pandemic started. The average number of daily infections has nearly tripled over the past month in Illinois.
The state's seven-day average case positivity rate is up to 14.2%, the highest it's been in more than a year, since hitting 13.7% on Nov. 12, 2020, during the height of the second wave of the pandemic. The highest case positivity rate reported in Illinois so far was 24.2% during the early days of the pandemic on April 6, 2020.
Hospitalizations statewide also continue to surge, with 6,842 virus patients being treated at Illinois hospitals as of Tuesday night, the third day in a row Illinois has set a new record for hospitalizations. COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois have jumped 150% over the past month.
Earlier this week, Gov. JB Pritzker and IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said they were worried about the strain the latest surge of the pandemic has placed on hospital staff.
"Our hospitals are still completely overwhelmed," Ezike said Monday afternoon.
Ezike also warned that, while the new Omicron variant of the virus might not cause as severe illness as previous strains, that doesn't mean there are fewer people being hospitalized than during earlier stages of the pandemic, because "there are just so many more people with COVID, period."
As of Tuesday night, only 17% of the state's hospital beds were open, including only 9% of the state's ICU beds, according to IDPH.
Gov. JB Pritzker said, in some regions of the state, ICU beds "are frighteningly limited," with only single-digit numbers available in some parts of Illinois.
"It is frustrating and tragic that, two years into the pandemic, with multiple widely available and free life-saving vaccines, that we are once again in this horrible position," Pritzker said Monday afternoon.
Last week, the governor urged hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries to use existing staff to expand ICU capacity.
Pritzker and Ezike pleaded with people who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shots to avoid further stressing the state's hospital system.
"They are under tremendous strain, and I don't know how much more they can withstand. We must all find ways to support them in every way possible," Pritzker said. "All Illinoisans need to focus on keeping each other safe. Where we go next as a state is a matter of each of us pitching in. Each of us can get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear our mask when in spaces with other people, and I ask everyone to do their part."
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