The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that an area in southern Illinois that is home to more than 400,000 people with over a dozen hospitals has no available ICU beds.
This is the first time the department has reported that any of the state’s 11 designated health regions have no available ICU beds, the Chicago Tribune reported.
IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold said in an email to The Hill that the department has been warning the region about the possibility of a shortage of beds.
While the state has sent additional staff to hospitals in the area, “all of these emergency actions are temporary fixes and Illinoisans need to follow the commonsense mitigations in place to stop the spread and stem the tide of hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” Arnold wrote.
"We have three safe vaccines that are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is crucial to reducing the burden on our health care and hospital systems," Arnold added.
Arien Herrmann, a regional hospital coordinator, told the Tribune that hospitals are choosing to delay elective surgeries to keep beds open.
Herrmann also said the lack of ICU beds in the region is due to the low vaccination rate, as 38 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
“We have the lowest vaccination rate in the state,” Herrmann told the newspaper. “It’s that simple. I really think the data speaks for itself.”
The U.S. is currently dealing with another wave of COVID-19 infections, as the highly contagious delta variant is hitting the unvaccinated hard.
Three regions in the Chicago area all have ICU bed availability that is below 20 percent, data from the state department of health shows.
The Illinois Medical Professionals Action Collaborative Team (IMPACT), a group that advocates for health workers, said the current issue will affect state health care workers greatly.
“This is not a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ but a pandemic that affects everyone as emergency and routine health care collapses for a region,” IMPACT said in a statement.
Zero ICU beds in Southern Illinois is a public health emergency of epic proportions! Our statement below. #GetVaccinated and #WearAMask https://t.co/BPyceriY5r @GovPritzker @IDPH pic.twitter.com/y0am3JPfdW— IMPACT4HC (@IMPACT4HC) September 14, 2021
Updated: 1:29 p.m.