What to know as COVID cases rise in Illinois – NBC Chicago


As COVID-19 cases rise in Illinois, health officials are monitoring symptoms, updating guidelines and evaluating precautions to ensure areas remain at low levels of transmissibility.

On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a warning as rates of coronavirus cases are “slowly increasing in many areas of the state,” saying residents “should pay close attention to conditions in their local communities”.

In the same notice, the health agency urged vaccinations and booster shots for eligible populations.

Here’s what to know as cases continue to rise:

What are the latest COVID measures for Illinois?

Illinois health officials reported 14,049 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, along with 45 additional deaths, marking a slight increase in cases after weeks of decline, but a continued decline in deaths .

The previous week, the state reported 10,786 and 71 deaths. The previous week, 8,426 new cases and 87 deaths had been reported.

A total of 3,094,485 coronavirus cases have been reported in the state since the pandemic began, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths bring the state to 33,510 confirmed COVID deaths.

As of midnight Thursday, 464 patients were hospitalized with COVID in the state. Of those patients, 70 are in intensive care beds and 32 are on ventilators, both of which have declined over the past seven days.

What are the symptoms to watch out for?

The ‘stealth omicron’ subvariant, BA.2, has only been the dominant strain of COVID in the United States for less than a month, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now believes it is responsible for more 80% of new virus cases.

Dr. Gregory Huhn, infectious disease physician and COVID vaccine coordinator for Cook County Health, noted that while the original strain of omicron caused more upper respiratory tract symptoms, it remains too early to say whether BA.2 will proceed. this trend.

“I don’t know if we currently know the particular characteristics that are distinct for BA.2 compared to BA.1. I mean, for BA.1, we knew that it was mainly an infection of the type upper respiratory tract rather than lower respiratory tract infections which can lead to additional and more severe pneumonia and complications,” he said.

Still, NBC News reported that symptoms associated with BA.2 appear to largely mirror a small number of symptoms commonly reported in omicron infections. These include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose

Anecdotal reports have suggested that dizziness could be a possible symptom, but so far they are unsubstantiated.

Health officials also noted that, while not impossible, newer COVID variants are less likely to cause loss of taste and smell than in initial cases.

What is the incubation period for COVID and how long are you contagious?

The CDC late last year moved the timing of COVID-19 quarantine and isolation to reflect growing evidence that suggests transmission, particularly from the omicron variant, often occurs un two days before the onset of symptoms and for two to three days afterward.

For those with no symptoms, CDC guidelines say they are considered contagious at least two days before a positive test. The CDC says anyone who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should be tested five days after exposure or as soon as symptoms appear.

According to CDC recommendations, those who have been within six feet of someone with COVID for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period should quarantine for five days if they are unvaccinated, or are more than six months away from their second dose of vaccine.

Once this period is over, they must participate in strict mask use for another five days.

People who are both fully vaccinated and boosted do not need to quarantine if they are in close contact with someone with COVID, but should wear a mask for at least 10 days after exposure. The same goes for those who are fully vaccinated and not yet eligible for their booster.

People who are COVID-positive must stay home for five days, according to the guidelines.

At the end of the period, if you have no symptoms, you can resume your normal activities but you must wear a mask everywhere – even at home around others – for at least five more days.

If you still have symptoms after being isolated for five days, stay home until you feel better, then start your five days of mask-wearing at any time.

How many counties are at “low” risk for COVID?

As of Friday, all 102 counties except one had low community levels, the least severe of three levels to describe community transmission of COVID, as defined by the CDC.

Champaign County is reported to be at an average community level, the second highest level of risk for COVID transmission. According to the CDC, the county was experiencing 374.84 cases per 100,000, 5.3 new COVID admissions per 100,000 people, and 1% of staffed in-person beds being used by patients with confirmed COVID.

Residents of green and yellow counties, with low and medium COVID levels, respectively, do not need to wear masks. People in yellow counties who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID should speak with their doctor about whether they should wear a mask or take other precautions.

In places where community transmission is low, residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date on COVID vaccines and reminders and to maintain improved ventilation in indoor spaces when possible.

On Friday, no community was experiencing high transmission, a marked improvement from the previous week. Last week, Gallatin, Hardin, Pope and Saline counties were listed as having high community levels.

Has there been an update to the travel advisory for Chicago?

According to an update Friday, the Chicago Department of Public Health is advising residents who travel to areas of the country deemed medium or high risk by the CDC to take precautions against the disease.

The CDPH issued recommendations following the latest update to the CDC’s county-by-county community levels map, which lists 5.9% of U.S. counties and Puerto Risk as medium or high risk. of COVID.

Most states still have low levels of COVID-19, health officials say, but states such as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York have average to medium COVID-19 risk levels. high, based on CDC COVID-19 community levels.

As of Friday, 14 U.S. counties had high-risk community levels, an improvement from 19 counties last week. Overall levels have declined over the past few days, with 175 counties listed as medium risk this week compared to 123 last week.

Are masks still required everywhere in Chicago?

The Biden administration announced this week that the national mask requirement for public transportation systems will be extended for two weeks.

The requirement to wear a mask on planes, at airports and on buses and trains was due to expire on April 18. It will now run until May 3, 2022.

According to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a mask is still required on public transportation, such as Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains, Metra lines, Amtrak and airplanes.

Ride-sharing vehicles, including taxis, Ubers and Lyfts, also continue to require masks during travel and will impose a penalty on customers without a mask.

The mask requirement remained in place even after the CDC announced a change in COVID-19 guidelines in late February, saying most Americans are safe without masks indoors.


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