coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Travel Advisory Changes, BA.2 Growth

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

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Changes to Chicago's travel advisory are set to take effect Friday, but what will the new guidelines mean for you?

The changes come as the BA.2 variant is now dominant in parts of the U.S. and could soon represent the majority of cases in the Midwest.

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

Chicago Travel Advisory Changes Begin Friday. Here Are the New Guidelines

Chicago's travel advisory will look different starting on Friday as city officials announced changes to how the advisory is structured.

When asked about masks at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, travelers said the face coverings bring an element of comfort amid crowded flights. NBC 5's Chris Coffey reports.

Following changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city said it will instead categorize counties and locations as low, medium or high risk, based on data provided by the CDC. Residents will need to check the map for the latest information prior to travel.

Here are the new guidelines.

Chicago's Top Doctor Discusses New Travel Advisory, Why City Made Changes

New travel advisory policies implemented by the city of Chicago will take effect this week, and the city’s top doctor is elaborating on why the new mitigations have been put into place.

Previously, any individual traveling to a high-risk COVID area was encouraged to take a COVID test and to quarantine for at least five days after returning, but under the new guidance, those parameters have been tweaked.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the new metrics and recommendations are in line with changes made by the CDC.

Read more here.

As BA.2 Variant Causes Cases to Rise in New York, Cases Also Start Going Up in Midwest

As New York begins to see a subvariant of omicron become the dominant strain in the city, the Midwest is also beginning to see more cases emerge.

According to the CDC, the so-called “stealth” omicron variant BA.2 has been driving the uptick in cases in the New York area, with the strain now accounting for at least 52% of the new COVID cases in the region in recent weeks, estimates suggest.

Nationally, the BA.2 variant is responsible for 35% of new infections.

Read more here.

Illinois Reports More Than 1,700 New COVID Cases as Hospitalizations Remain Near Record Lows

The state of Illinois has remained consistent with its average number of new daily COVID cases in recent weeks, but Thursday saw a slight uptick in those numbers, with more than 1,700 new probable and confirmed cases reported in the last 24 hours.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state reported 1,723 new cases in the last day, bumping the state’s daily average to 1,160 cases per day over the last week.

Read more here.

Airline Mask Mandate: When the Requirement Expires and What to Know Before Traveling

With a busy spring break season underway, travelers are asking about the nationwide public transportation mask mandate before departing on their getaways.

Citing a recommendation federal health officials, the Transportation Security Administration announced the extension of its mask requirement on public transportation through April 18.

Under the mandate, face coverings will continue to be required on buses, trains and airplanes as well as at transportation facilities.

Read more here.

When Could COVID Vaccine Begin for Kids Under 5 and Which Shot is Best?

COVID vaccines for children under the age of 5 took a major step forward Wednesday as many parents anxiously await approval for the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination as restrictions lift across the U.S.

Already, Chicago has lifted its masking and vaccination mandates and Illinois has lifted its indoor mask and school mask mandates.

The changing guidelines surrounding COVID, not just in Illinois, have many parents questioning how best to protect their kids. The nation’s 18 million children under 5 are the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination.

While the race is on to get the youngest members of the population vaccinated, which vaccine will work best and when might one be approved?

Here's what we know so far.

'Large Surges' Reported Around the World. What Does That Mean for US, Chicago?

COVID is surging in several countries around the world, and while that has previously been an indicator of what to expect next in the U.S., what could make this time different?

Experts are predicting a potential rise in cases, particularly surrounding the BA.2 subvariant, with some locations seeing current metrics near what Chicago reported in the peak of its omicron surge.

"We're seeing countries with 50% positivity, 60% positivity, 30% positivity, you know, even like the UK over 10% positivity," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a COVID update Tuesday.

What makes this different? Read more here.

Chicago to Reduce Some COVID Programs, Officials Announce

Chicago plans to cut back its at-home vaccination program and its gift card incentives as demand wanes.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s chief health official, said Tuesday at-home vaccinations will be offered four days a week instead of seven beginning April 1.

See more of the changes expected here.

Chicago Health Officials ‘Keeping a Close Eye' on Slight Rise in COVID Metrics

Chicago's COVID metrics saw a slight increase over the last week as health officials closely watch for signs of a surge due to the BA.2 variant, but the city's top doctor said the levels remain "very much in control."

The average daily number of new cases in Chicago climbed this week to 156, up from 136 the previous week, according to the city's dashboard, though the number continues to remain well-below the 5,189 seen earlier this year.

The positivity rate also rose slightly to 0.8%, up from 0.7% last week.

Read more here.

BA.2 Subvariant Expected to Be Dominant in Chicago By End of Month, Top Doc Says

The BA.2 omicron subvariant is expected to make up most of Chicago's COVID cases by the end of the month, the city's top doctor said Tuesday.

Noting a small increases in cases, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said while the COVID risk remains low in the city, data shows the number of cases of the BA.2 subvariant are doubling every week.

"All we're seeing right now in Chicago and across the Midwest is omicron. We are seeing two primary subvariants of omicron: the B1, which is the one that hit us through the surge, is still about 69% and BA.2, which is the one that we're watching and is more contagious than B.1 and probably some of what is driving that increase around the world, is just over 30% at this point. In Chicago, we've seen that BA.2 doubling about every seven days, so we do think we'll see predominance, meaning most of our cases will be that BA.2, by the end of the month."

Read more here.

Symptoms, Transmissibility, and More: What We Know About the BA.2 Subvariant

What is the BA.2 omicron subvariant and will it lead to another surge in the U.S.?

Experts say what happens in the next few weeks in the U.S. could be critical to whether or not the U.S. will follow in Europe's footsteps.

So what is BA.2, what are the symptoms associated with it, where has it been detected and how contagious is it?

Here's a breakdown.

COVID Symptoms vs. Cold: Here's How to Tell the Difference

If you've come down with a runny nose recently, you may be wondering whether you're experiencing the common cold, allergies or maybe COVID-19.

Health officials say it can be difficult to tell what you're experiencing based on the symptoms, but getting tested is one way to find out. That includes people who have been vaccinated, experts say.

Read more here.

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