SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday outlined measures to find tens of thousands of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients within the next two weeks while continuing to expand capacity for testing for the novel coronavirus amid a pandemic that has now claimed 16 Illinois lives.
The Democrat said at his daily briefing that the state will need almost 38,000 additional hospital beds, including more than 9,000 in intensive-care units, along with nearly 5,000 ventilators - more than double what’s available in the state right now.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 250 new cases of the potentially deadly respiratory ailment, a 19% jump to a total of 1,535. There were four additional deaths reported Tuesday.
"We are beyond the moment where testing alone can be our primary weapon against this virus,” Pritzker said. “We can’t just test, we have to treat.”
Public health officials report that more than half of the state’s 28,600 hospital beds are occupied. About 30% of the 2,200 ventilators is in use.
Pritzker said the Illinois National Guard has set up triage centers outside of existing hospitals to evaluate potential patients. And his administration is evaluating closed hospitals that could be temporarily re-opened.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Monday a plan to reserve thousands of hotel rooms for patients with mild cases of COVID-19.
Pritzker said existing hospitals also need more equipment and state officials continue to search for it worldwide. Pritzker reported that after speaking to President Donald Trump Monday, the White House told the public health department that the state would receive 300 ventilators and 300,000 protective face masks in the coming days.
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Illinois officials have reported 1,285 positive cases as of Monday and 12 deaths; that’s up from 1,049 cases and nine deaths on Sunday.