coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: BA.2 Variant Predictions, Masking Guidance Update

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today

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How quickly is the BA.2 variant spreading in the U.S.?

Experts are warning another uptick in cases could be coming.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

What Experts Are Watching for Amid 'Heightened Alert' Over BA.2

Health experts say they are paying close attention to the BA.2 variant over the next few weeks as they wait to see if another COVID surge will arise.

But while many believe a rise in cases is possible, some say it is not expected to be more severe than the omicron surge see earlier this year.

There are, however, signs in other countries currently experiencing an uptick in cases due to the variant that transmission is leading to a rise in hospitalizations and possibly even deaths.

Here's what experts are saying.

Health Experts Predict Uptick in U.S. COVID Cases Due to New BA.2 Variant

U.S. health experts are warning an emerging, highly contagious Covid omicron variant, called BA.2, could soon lead to another uptick in domestic coronavirus cases.

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said BA.2 is about 50% to 60% more transmissible than omicron, but it does not appear to be more severe. Health officials continue to stress coronavirus vaccines and boosters remain the best ways to prevent serious illness from the virus.

Read more here.

Masks No Longer Recommended in Any of Illinois' 102 Counties, CDC Says

For the first time since the end of Illinois' mask mandate, residents in all 102 counties can safely visit public indoor spaces without wearing masks, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

All Illinois counties were listed in the low category on the CDC's COVID-19 community level map Thursday, meaning masks can safely be removed.

Under metrics released a week earlier, masks had only been recommended in Johnson County, which had been ranked as a high community level - the highest level of COVID-19 risk.

Read more here.

The Latest Mask Guidance and Travel Tips During Busy Spring Break Travel

This spring break season, the Transportation Security Administration is bracing for a spike in travel volume that will surpass 90% of pre-pandemic levels for March.

For United Airlines, this weekend is expected to be one of the busiest for spring break travel.

With COVID restrictions rescinded in much of the country, people are seizing the opportunity to get away and take in different sights. Despite relaxed mitigations, the TSA's mask mandate remains in place.

Under the mandate, masks are required on buses, trains and airplanes as well as at transportation facilities until April 18.

Read more here.

What is BA.2 or 'Stealth Omicron'? What to Know as Cases Abroad Spark Concern

The BA.2 variant is beginning to grow in parts of the U.S. and is believed to be behind a number of COVID increases in multiple countries, so what exactly is it and what does the change mean as restrictions continue to ease?

Chicago's top doctor said Thursday it remains unclear what effect the BA.2 subvariant will have on the city's fight against COVID, though she is "concerned" by what is happening in other parts of the world.

Here's what we know so far about BA.2.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 7K New Cases, 123 Deaths in Last Week as Decline Continues

Illinois health officials reported 7,467 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 123 additional deaths and over 56,000 new vaccine doses administered, marking a continued drop in cases and deaths.

The previous week, the state reported 8,519 new cases and 149 deaths. The week before that, 10,462 new cases and 272 deaths were reported.

More on the state's latest COVID metrics here.

Experts Say New COVID Variants Likely, But How Severe Will They Be?

While many are closely watching omicron subvariant BA.2 and the so-called "deltacron" hybrid strain, some experts have suggested that new COVID variants could arrive in the coming months.

Based on how quickly new variants have arisen, some have predicted the next variant could arrive as early as May.

Public health officials in Chicago said they are "certainly expecting more variants to emerge," but it remains unclear if such variants will be more or less severe than previous strains. There's one thing they're watching, though, that they believe could make a difference.

Read more here.

Why Chicago Health Officials Say They Are 'Concerned' About COVID Trends in Europe

With COVID upticks being seen across parts of Europe, many coinciding with a rise in BA.2 or "stealth omicron" cases, what does that signal for the U.S. as restrictions ease?

Chicago's top doctor said Thursday she is particularly concerned about the state of Europe's COVID cases.

"I'm going to be honest, I am concerned about what's happening in Europe because I think there is not a full understanding of it," Chicago Department of Public Health Director Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Thursday.

Read more here.

COVID, Cold, Allergies: How Can You Tell the Difference in Symptoms?

If you're wondering whether that runny nose, sore throat or sneeze is simply allergies, just a cold, or possibly signs of COVID-19, you're not alone.

With many experiencing cold-like symptoms, and with the start of spring allergies, it can be hard to decipher what could be behind the onset of symptoms.

Experts say the only real way to know the answer is to test, but until then, health officials say to treat any possible symptoms as COVID.

Read more here for a breakdown of symptoms.

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