Governor aims to raise COVID booster, testing capacity as state sees highest surge in cases
CHICAGO (25 NEWS) - Gov. JB Pritzker is pleading with unvaccinated residents to get their COVID-19 shots, including boosters, to keep them from getting seriously ill and overwhelming health care workers.
This latest COVID surge, fueled by Omicron and Delta variants, created the sharpest increase in cases since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago, said Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who joined the governor Monday at a Chicago news conference.
Ezike said there have been more than 21,000 new COVID-19 cases since Christmas Eve, and hospitalizations statewide have been on the rise as well.
Pritzker did not implement new COVID restrictions, but he announced the state is more than doubling its personnel and adding at least 100 people to regional sites - administering vaccinations, preparing doses for clinic workers, and doing data entry.
Starting next week, the state’s free community-based testing sites will be open six days a week, instead of four.
The measures announced by the governor will support local health staffers to vaccinate and boost 10s of thousands more state residents, and to increase testing capacity.
While Pritzker welcomes increased demand for shots and testing, he said unvaccinated people have made the pandemic “so much worse.”
“Please change your mind,” the governor said to those who chose not to get vaccinated for non-medical reasons.
“If we are forced to move to a crisis standard of care in our hospitals, it will be because massive numbers of unvaccinated people chose to let others go without quality care, and even more people will die,” said Prtizker.
Colleen Kannady, president of Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal was one of three health care executives joining Pritzker virtually at Monday’s news conference echoing his concerns about overworked hospital staffers and people who haven’t received their vaccinations.
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