Statement from the Chicago Department of Public Health on COVID-19 and the local healthcare system

August 26, 2021

Local health system remains stable with available capacity

COVID-19 Joint Information Center

CHICAGO - Throughout the pandemic we have worked very closely with our hospital and other healthcare partners including monitoring bed capacity in the local health system on a daily basis. Chicago has a strong network of top hospitals and community health centers, and while we have experienced a steady increase in COVID-19 cases this summer, hospital capacity and capacity in local ICUs has remained stable and Chicago’s hospital system capacity has not been a cause for great concern.
Less than 10 percent of the ICU beds in Chicago are currently filled by COVID-19 patients (about 100 people as of August 24). Currently, about 85 percent of the city’s ICU beds are in use, and importantly the vast majority are being occupied by non-COVID patients. These numbers can be seen on our hospital capacity dashboard.
We are currently not anywhere near our peak of April, 2020. At that time, we reached 500 occupied ICU beds, and even then, the hospital system in Chicago was able to adequately handle that surge. Our bed capacity threshold that would be an indication of “very high transmission” of COVID, which we’ve been using since the start of the pandemic, is 400 ICU beds occupied by COVID patients. But it is important to note that the overall capacity (ICU and non-ICU) of Chicago hospitals is not a fixed number, rather hospitals flex and surge capacity as needed.
As has been the case throughout the vaccine roll-out, CDPH continues to also work closely with the health care community to ensure vaccine availability to all eligible Chicagoans. And we have made tremendous progress in doing so, with more than 70% of Chicago adults having received at least a first dose, which is significantly higher than many other areas of Illinois.
There are still too many people, however, who have yet to be vaccinated, particularly in communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. It is critical that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people get their primary series of vaccines to further reduce the risk of COVID-19 and its more severe outcomes. Nearly all cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at pharmacies, health care facilities, and through special events across the City at no cost to the public. CDPH recently expanded the capacity and extended the hours of the Protect Chicago At Home program, where anyone 12 and over can receive a vaccine in their home. No insurance or government ID are required to receive a vaccination anywhere. To learn more, visit or call 312-746-4835.