COVID-19 cases plateau in weekly report, state leaders express "cautious optimism"
Governor JB Pritzker and Public Health Director Doctor Ngoze Ezike this week said they were cautiously optimistic Illinois had reached the Omicron peak - and this week's COVID-19 numbers seem to track in that direction.
Total new cases topped 180,000 this week, but that's down more than 20,000 from last week and the week before. Hospitalizations are down more than a thousand patients to just over 6,000.
Locally, southern Illinois' hospitalizations were steady - SIH reports 62 patients in the hospital with COVID, while SSM Health reports 43. Those numbers are nearly the same from last week. The region's vaccination rates jumped this week - up more than a full percentage point for the WSIU listening area, while the state's growth was about a half percent.
Still, the weekly test positivity rate is up to 11.9%. But state leaders say they remain hopeful the numbers will continue to decline in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, in state prisons, COVID-19 is running rampant. Menard Correctional Center added 603 new cases this week - more than 500 inmates are considered active cases. Every correctional center in southern Illinois added new cases this week - more than doubling the new cases reported last week.
Choate Mental Health Center in Union County added 16 new cases, while Murray Center in Centralia added three, and Chester's Psychiatric Hospital one.
Neighboring states are also seeing the spike of Omicron... with test positivity continuing to grow. Missouri's positivity is up to 34.9%, while Kentucky is 31.4%. Indiana's rate is the highest in the region - at 44.3%.