CHICAGO, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Hospitals in Greater Chicago Area are bracing for large numbers of COVID-19 patients as the U.S. Midwest state of Illinois enters a second wave of the pandemic, Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.
Though Chicago area hospitals are not at that point yet, some have seen rapidly rising numbers of people needing overnight care in recent days.
As of Sunday night, 2,096 people in the state with COVID-19 were hospitalized, up from 1,631 two weeks earlier.
"We are definitely seeing an increase in hospitalizations that we noticed for the first time on Thursday," the local newspaper quoted Dr. Stuart Marcus, Amita Health's executive vice president and chief clinical officer, as saying.
Amita, which runs 19 hospitals in Illinois, had 169 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday morning. For most of the summer, its hospitals had about 85 to 100 COVID-19 patients, Marcus said.
At the peak of the pandemic in late April and early May, Amita had about 650 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker warned on Monday that "in Illinois, it looks like a new wave could be upon us," while Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the increases a "second surge."
During the first wave, there were 4,719 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois on May 1. And most hospitals put strict policies in place earlier this year, including banning most visitors. Some hospitals loosened those restrictions a bit over the summer, such as by allowing one visitor at a time or allowing certain types of patients to receive visitors.
Now, those visitor rules could tighten again in coming weeks, depending on how bad this second wave gets, the local media reported.