By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

For more than a month now, Illinois’ public has largely been in the dark about the state health care system’s capacity to handle the Coronavirus crisis. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has never publicly released the state’s hospital resource data or the full range of predictions that are driving his decisions on public health and the shutdown of the state’s economy. 

Without data, the public can’t be sure about just how bad the situation really is.

Several groups, including Wirepoints, recently began asking for hospitalization information to be made public. Hospitalization numbers are some of the most important data Illinois needs to make intelligent decisions regarding the crisis and the economy.

The state finally began collecting and releasing data on April 3rd. But aside from a press release on April 7th, the data has not been publicly released on the IDPH COVID-19 data page. The data is seemingly available only upon request, though some charts of the data are now beginning to show up on Facebook and Twitter.

With the government’s new hospitalization data, Wirepoints is now able to compare Illinois’ health care system capacity to one of the more prominent projections of Coronavirus cases: that of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Here are Wirepoints’ three key takeaways when comparing the governor’s data to IHME’s projections [The IHME’s projection is as of April 7th]:

  • If Pritzker gets the 4,000 ventilators he wants from the federal government, then Illinois will have 4,700 more machines than needed under IHME’s projected requirements. Even under IHME’s worst-case scenario, Illinois would still have 2,280 more ventilators than needed.
  • Illinois has the hospital beds it needs to care for COVID-19 patients if IHME’s projections as of April 7th are realized. Illinois does not have, however, the beds it would need under IHME’s worst-case scenario. But hospitalized cases over the next six days would have to grow 45 percent a day, instead of their current 6.2 percent, to reach that worst-case projection.
  • Illinois has the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds it needs to care for COVID-19 patients under IHME’s projected requirements. Illinois does not have the ICU beds it needs under IHME’s worst-case scenario, but ICU cases over the next 6 days would have to grow 27 percent a day, instead of their current 3.9 percent, to reach that worst-case projection.

Importantly, Pritzker has also based Illinois projected needs for PPE – personal protection equipment such as masks and gowns – on the full number of beds available, even if unused. Accordingly, if the number of beds is overstated the needed PPE is also overstated.

There are many other projections than the IHME’s, but it’s one that’s prominently mentioned. It’s still unknown which other models Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot use to consider their decisions. The Chicago Tribune reported on April 3rd that: “Neither the city nor state has responded to Tribune requests for specific details on their predictions.” The governor also failed to name another model in his conference on April 8.

It should be noted that the IHME’s projections have been significantly reduced regarding projected hospitalizations and need for beds and ventilators. Its numbers have been revised downward for most states and for national totals. If IHME’s projections remain too pessimistic, the oversupply discussed below is understated.

Illinois ventilators

The governor’s most recent health care system capacity report on April 8 shows that the state currently has 2,899 ventilators on hand. 

According to the IHME projection, Illinois will need 1,610 ventilators for COVID-19 patients on April 18th, when the IHME projects Illinois’ needs will peak (its projection as of April 7). Add to that the 520 ventilators currently being used by non-COVID patients, and you get a grand total of 2,130 ventilators needed.

In summary, Illinois has 769 more machines on hand than its projected needs.

On top of that, Pritzker says he’s ordered 4,000 additional ventilators from the federal government. If he gets what he wants, he’ll have nearly 6,900 ventilators in all. Fulfilling Pritzker’s request would result in Illinois having some 4,700 more ventilators than the state’s projected need.

Even if you take the IHME’s most extreme scenario, where Illinois would need just over 4,100 ventilators on April 14th, Illinois would have an excess of 2,280 machines if Pritzker receives the number of ventilators he’s ordered.

There is also now the possibility of pairing up patients on ventilators – which could greatly reduce the number of ventilators needed. However, sharing is only a potential option, with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines warning the practice has “significant technical challenges that must be overcome.”

Illinois hospital beds

Illinois has approximately 14,100 total hospital beds available for COVID patients, according to April 8 data provided by the governor’s office – 2,772 beds currently filled by COVID patients and another 11,366 open beds.

That’s far more than the 9,255 Illinois will need on April 16th, when the IHME projects Illinois resource needs for beds will peak (projections as of April 7). In all, Illinois is expected to have 4,883 more hospital beds than the state’s projected needs.

The IHME’s worst-case scenario for Illinois beds tops out at 26,000 on April 14. That’s a shortfall of 11,900 beds. However, reaching that worst-case need would require the number of COVID-19 patients needing beds to grow by 45 percent each day for the next 6 days. 

For comparison, the actual average growth rate of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds from April 3rd to April 8th, according to the governor’s reported numbers, was 6.2 percent daily. (Unfortunately, there is limited data to work with given the lack of earlier data releases by the government.)

In addition, the above data does not include the new ongoing build-out of 3,000 beds in McCormick Place. Wirepoints has not yet been able to ascertain how many of those beds would be categorized as ICU or regular hospital beds.

Illinois ICU beds

Illinois has approximately 1,958 total hospital beds available for COVID patients, according to April 8 data provided by the governor’s office – 1,132 beds currently filled by COVID patients and another 826 open beds.

That’s about 60 more than the 1,894 beds Illinois will need on April 16th, when the IHME projects Illinois resource needs for ICU beds will peak (projections as of April 7).

Illinois does not have enough ICU beds to meet the IHME’s worst-case scenario. Under the IHME’s projections, the state’s need for ICU beds could reach more than 4,800 on April 14th – 2,857 more than the state has.

However, reaching the need for 4,815 ICU beds would require the number of COVID-19 patients needing ICU beds to grow by 27 percent daily for the next 6 days.

For comparison, the actual average growth rate of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds from April 3rd to April 8th, according to the governor’s reported numbers, was 3.9 percent daily. (Unfortunately, there is limited data to work with given the lack of earlier data releases by the government.)

A growing number of Illinoisans have been hospitalized

The governor’s office has also provided to Wirepoints the number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, beginning on April 3. That number has grown to 3,904 as of April 8th, a growth of 5.5 percent a day.

Hospitalization numbers aren’t important just for measuring how much capacity we need. They will also be essential for the difficult decision about when to end the stay-at-home order that has shut down most of our economy. Without knowing whether more or fewer people are actually getting sick from the virus, we cannot set that date rationally.

What next

Ideally, the governor’s office would release its range of crisis projections and compare those to the state’s available public health resources. The public deserves to know what projections the governor is basing the state’s public health decisions on, as well as those decisions that have shut down a majority of the state’s economy and led to stay-at-home orders.

It would also help the public understand why the governor constantly blames the federal government for providing insufficient materials – ventilators in particular.

Most importantly, it would help the public understand whether conditions are getting better or worse.

*The IHME data in this report is based on their projections from April 7, 2020. On April 8, IHME released new projections that show lower numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. If those projections hold, the resource needs for Illinois will be significantly reduced.

Read more about the impact of the Coronavirus on Illinois:

 

Appendix

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7 months ago

Medical experts’ models on #Covid-19 are inaccurate. They have went from predicting 240,000 deaths in the US to now 60,000. These models had factored in the social distancing regime. Based on these models politicians have shut down our nation and have limited routine non-emergent medical care for our patients. For comparison during the 2017-2018 #flu season as many as 80,000 died in the US from the seasonal flu. No draconian restrictions were placed on #Americans in response. Predictions of medical facility capacity shortages were inaccurate. An expensive and hastily built field hospital set up by the Army in Seattle’s pro… Read more »

NB-Chicago
7 months ago

Whatever the city & state spent on 1,700 bed mccormik place facility–was it really needed??

Fed up neighbor
7 months ago
Reply to  NB-Chicago

Nope just looking for huge amounts of money from the feds to bailout there irresponsible asses for years and years of fiscal mismanagement. Same with the state inflate numbers more money. Hope feds tell the state sorry your years of mismanagement 0 money, fix your problem and then we will talk

NB-Chicago
7 months ago

And a lot of mcpier trades guys made a lot-ah double ot im sure

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  NB-Chicago

I personally know a few mcpier guys, and other than this, they haven’t worked in months, and there’s no work for the foreseeable future, as conventions get cancelled every day now.

Admin
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Do you know if the usual union guys have been doing the work at McCormick place or Army Corps people?

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

I’ll find out.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

My union friend told me the feds built most, if not all of it, because the feds wanted it built to their own specs.

Admin
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

No wonder it got built so fast.

NB-Chicago
7 months ago

Fantastic reporting ted & john!!. Could impetus for jb & lorrie to inflate the #s– is fed pandemic bailout $bucks$ will be doled out to states & municipalities according to # of covid case reported, # of projected case or reimbursement for $ spent?..

Ken
7 months ago

It is likely that the IHME model will be readjusted downward again, since it is not coming close to matching the actual data. As a former modeler, models are only as good as their assumptions and data and often have a significant error margin and should be viewed as indications rather than absolutes. Also it is important to note that CDC is encouraging doctors to list anyone who dies with a positive Covid test to list the cause of death to be due to Covid. So if someone dies from cancer, but tests positive for Covid then the cause of… Read more »

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Ken

The good news is that only the die hard ‘vote blue always’ crowd trusts Biden and the Democrat party with reviving the economy and polls bear this out. Trump has got a leg up on Biden, and again, no one but the loudest pundits on TV and twitter really blame him for any of financial meltdown, especially since it’s state govs have that mostly taken the lead on this. Biden will be drooling on himself, literally and figuratively, by the time November rolls around, and any moderates left in either party will either not show up to the polls, or… Read more »

Laura Dion-Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Very well said.
I proudly vote #Trump4More, at least!

LeaveILWhileYouCan
7 months ago

Jelly Belly Pritzker needs to go, ASAP. His constant whining and blaming FedGov for Illinois’ own shortcomings has me counting the days until I can vote against him. He’s nothing more than a puppet for Mike Madigan, he’s raised taxes on everything, implemented so many new “fees” they’re hard to count and honestly, it looks like he’s one sammich away from exploding live on TV. He’s put on what, 50 lbs since taking office? Must be all the tax dollars he’s been eating with his insatiable appetite.

Laura Dion-Jones
7 months ago

I couldn’t agree more!

Mzaccaro
7 months ago

Vote Republican

debtsor
7 months ago

We all know this isn’t about ventilators. This is about JB throwing blue meat to his base and criticizing Trump. We know this for two reasons: Firstly, your data shows that JB’s ventilator request is WAY more than our state needs. The Feds know that, he knows that, and now, we know that too. He’s using the ventilator issue as a way to blame Trump. Kind of like how some people on the right blame George Soros for all of life’s problems, JB does the same for Trump. Secondly, ventilator survival rates are really really low. Wuhan Virus patients go… Read more »

Hank Scorpio
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Yep. Nobody is talking about the inconvenient truth about the survival rate of these ventilators. They are a Hail Mary pass. I told my parents that if they get this virus and end up in the hospital they better demand the hydroxychloroquine treatment.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Hank Scorpio

The other ’emperor wears no clothes’ issue is the co-morbidities that no one else is talking about. And not just the old people with high blood pressure or COPD. It’s the young obese people that are getting this and dying. I heard on Laura Ingraham a doctor say that in Seattle IIRC the typical patient on a vent under the age of 60 was morbidly obese. I researched this BMI issue afterwards and it’s true. most of the young people getting sick and dying are all morbidly obese. Super fat, super unhealthy, and nature is doing its job culling the… Read more »

Laura Dion-Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Chronic obesity is the #1 reason why blacks are at higher risk of dying from the virus.
It’s hard for them to let go of their racial victimhood.

Laura Dion-Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

The economic destruction “cure” is far worse than the virus.
It’s all a manned #Panicdemic hoax by the NWO Deep State democrat socialist Cabal operatives to destroy the world’s & America’s economies taking President Trump & ALL OF US down with it.
#Trump4More

Greg
7 months ago

Interesting analysis but doesn’t it ignore the geographic disparity of caseload (and thus, need) by treating all of Illinois as one entity? Empty beds in Peoria aren’t going to help much in Cook County.

Admin
7 months ago
Reply to  Greg

You are absolutely right and we’ve written on that. In fact, I finally saw one piece of information yesterday on Facebook from the governor that starts to break it out by region. But that info and the detail has not been widely spread… To your point, yes, we need that data, too.

Mark Felt
7 months ago

The state of Illinois has been making unsound fiscal decisions for years, by extension what would cause you to think they would make sound medical decisions. As to preparing for the absolute worst case scenario, the governor would rather have the medical equipment on hand, even if it causes the death death of other ill people around the country, because those people don’t vote in Illinois….even though a lot of the dead do vote in Chicago.

Friedemann
7 months ago

Pritzker is less truthful than the Chinese. Pritzker is a habitual liar. Thanks for forcing him to give actual numbers. I am at high risk and appreciate real numbers.

7 months ago
Reply to  Friedemann

EXACTLY. Showing real numbers helps high risk people make better decisions.

DantheMan
7 months ago

As much as I can’t stand Lightfoot or Pritzker, I can’t find fault if they want to be ready for the worst case scenario.

7 months ago
Reply to  DantheMan

I can, because they aren’t truthful about it. It’s also expensive-and we haven’t talked about the probability that it will happen. What if the worst case is less than a 1% chance? Of course, these sorts of distributions have fat tails so you have to account for that but the conditional probability of 27% growth day after day after day isn’t there-especially with a quarantine.

Admin
7 months ago
Reply to  DantheMan

Dan, if he wants to make a case that he wants to manage for the worst-case, then let him make it publicly and defend it. But he should be transparent about it and share what those numbers look like with people, especially since the worst-case scenario means giving him the power to extend indefinitely an economic shutdown and stay-at-home orders. I can’t imagine DantheMan wanting to give Pritzker and Lightfoot that much power unchallenged. Transparency would also allow other experts to challenge Pritzker’s worst-case scenarios, or at least help people understand the risk/return profile of the decisions. We also have… Read more »

Platinum Goose
7 months ago
Reply to  ted dabrowski

I believe the suicide rate is affected by unemployment. So for the ones who want to argue that we can sacrifice the economy to save lives then it’s ok to lose some lives to suicide?