coronavirus illinois

COVID ‘Surging' in Parts of Illinois, Chicago's Top Doc Says. Here's a Look at Where

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While several Illinois counties remain under a high community level for COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which locations are seeing the highest rates?

According to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, southern Illinois "is surging" currently.

"Chicago continues to have rates that are under both the national rate and the rate in Illinois," Arwady said. "Southern Illinois is surging a little more right now... and then down in Louisiana is where we're seeing a significant outbreak right at the moment."

According to the CDC, 58 Illinois counties are now at "high" community level for COVID, including many of the counties around the Chicago metropolitan area. Still, nearly all of southern Illinois was also listed at the "high" alert level.

Franklin County reported more than 20 new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 residents and more than 428 new cases per 100,000 residents in the last week. Several surrounding counties are also seeing upward trends in such metrics, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Still, the rates remain well below those seen earlier this year during the initial omicron surge.

The so-called surge comes as the BA.5 omicron subvariant, considered the most contagious and transmissible COVID variant yet, continues to dominate cases across the state and country.

According to the latest estimates released by the CDC Tuesday, the BA.5 subvariant, which has been the dominant strain of COVID in the United States since early July, now makes up an estimated 85.5% of cases across the nation.

That represents a slight uptick from a week ago, with BA.4 and BA.2.12.1 both slowly decreasing as a result.

In the Midwest, BA.5 makes up an even larger chunk of cases, representing 86.6% of all COVID infections, according to CDC estimates.

The BA.5 subvariant has caused some concern among health officials, as it has demonstrated an increased ability to evade immunity gained from previous COVID infections and from COVID vaccinations.

As a result, pharmaceutical companies have begun to formulate booster shots to better combat the new omicron subvariants, and those shots are expected to start going into arms later this year.

"I'd say one very small piece of good news is that we haven't seen the emergence of a new variant clearly outpacing [BA.5]," Arwady said. "You know, every week when we look, you might find individual cases of something a little different. We worry about them if they start out-competing or if they're more serious."

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