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Former Advocate Sherman facility in Elgin to reopen to help hospitals with coronavirus surge capacity

Former Advocate Sherman facility in Elgin to reopen to help hospitals with coronavirus surge capacity

Gov. JB Pritzker listens to a question during a news conference March 19 in Chicago.
Gov. JB Pritzker listens to a question during a news conference March 19 in Chicago.

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By the end of the week, McCormick Place in Chicago will have 500 hospital beds up and running, and the convention center will house as many as 3,000 hospital beds by the end of April, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state also is working to reopen two shuttered hospital facilities: the former Advocate Sherman Hospital campus in Elgin and the former MetroSouth Health Center in Blue Island.

Advocate Sherman moved to its current facility on Randall Road near Interstate 90 in 2009. The original location on Center Street in Elgin will temporarily reopen “to ensure that we have the capacity that we need over the next several months,” Pritzker said. MetroSouth Health Center in the south suburbs closed in 2019.

This comes as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced an additional 461 cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths throughout the state on Monday.

Pritzker said these alternate care facilities will serve as additional space, should the state need it, not replacing existing facilities.

“If we never have to go beyond our existing facilities, we will all be extremely happy,” Pritzker said. “Since we can’t guarantee that, and, in fact, we don’t have the data yet to suggest otherwise, we’re actively building out capacity.”

The Illinois National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to get the facilities up and running.

Despite “competition from other countries and even our own federal government,” Pritzker said the state has acquired huge amounts of personal protective equipment on its own. Illinois will receive shipments of 5.5 million N95 masks and 5.5 million surgical masks by the end of the week.

The state also has future shipments of 500,000 KN95 masks, 10,000 infrared thermometers and 4 million surgical masks arriving in the coming weeks.

The state already sent supplies to 96 local health departments and 155 hospitals across Illinois. Some hospitals in the most-affected areas have received more than one shipment. Those shipments have totaled 700,000 N95 masks, 930,000 surgical masks, 180,000 gowns, 887,000 gloves, 32,300 safety glasses and about 50,000 face shields.

The governor said the state has an additional stockpile – which is ever-changing – of 420,000 N95 masks, 41,000 surgical masks, 22,000 gowns, 340,000 gloves, 108,000 goggles and 73,000 face shields.

The White House assured Pritzker last week that Illinois would receive 300,000 N95 masks. A shipment arrived Sunday with surgical masks, which are looser fitting and “not what we asked for,” Pritzker said.

“I can’t emphasize enough how much we need the federal government to step up and amplify the size of their PPE deliveries to Illinois, and to all of the states,” Pritzker said.

Meanwhile, eight more people died from COVID-19 in Illinois. Newly reported deaths include a man in his 60s in DuPage County, a woman in her 60s in Kendall County, a man in his 50s in Will County and a man in his 60s in Will.

The state now has seen 5,057 confirmed cases of the virus and 73 total deaths. Illinois has tested 30,446 people, as of Monday.

According to IDPH data, Chicago has now seen 2,198 confirmed cases. The rest of Cook County has seen 1,529.

Lake County has 343 cases, DuPage 320, Will 223, Kane 113, McHenry 63, Kendall 18, DeKalb eight, La Salle five, Whiteside four, Grundy three and Bureau one.

One inmate at Stateville Correctional Center outside Joliet has died and 12 more inmates are now hospitalized, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. An additional 77 inmates and 11 staff are showing symptoms.

“The options for isolation for COVID-19 cases are limited in this focused setting and becomes very difficult depending on the size of the facility and the population that’s already in the facility,” Ezike said. “Ideally, all cases should be isolated individually.”

Ezike said symptomatic individuals are isolated. Staff is now wearing protective equipment and taking temperatures upon entering the facility.

Pritzker said officials have looked at releasing “and already have released a number of” low-level offenders, individual serving short time or pregnant mothers.

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