Evanston-based NorthShore University HealthSystem is suspending all non-emergency elective procedures through Jan. 14 because of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The suspension covers four of the chain’s six facilities, in Evanston, Skokie, Glenbrook, and Highland Park.

A NorthShore statement explains that the pause is “due to the dramatic increase in COVID hospitalizations, community positivity rates and our ongoing commitment to patient safety.”

As of Tuesday morning, NorthShore reports 155 COVID in-patients in its original hospitals, including 22 in intensive care. If you add in recently acquired Swedish Hospital and Northwest Community Hospital, there are another 160 COVID patients, with 50 in the ICU. Back on Nov. 17, NorthShore had 16 COVID patients total at Evanston, Glenbrook and Highland Park hospitals.

With Illinois seeing a record number of hospitalized COVID patients statewide, Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently urged a delay in elective procedures.

The other hospital in Evanston, Amita St. Francis, currently has 33 COVID in-patients. In late November, it had only six.

Amita spokesperson Tim Nelson tells Evanston Now that St. Francis Hospital “continues to perform most non-urgent and non-emergent procedures” at this time.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 20% of all hospital beds statewide are currently occupied by COVID patients.

That number has more than doubled in the past month.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.