coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Children Hospitalized, Testing Shortage, Schools Update

Chicago officials are set to provide guidance for parents as schools and families prepare for students to return to classrooms from winter break despite a large spike in COVID cases across the city.

The shift comes at a time when children's hospitals report their highest number of cases since the pandemic began, with numbers continuing to rise.

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

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Has Breakthrough COVID-19 Case

Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said Thursday she has tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

Stratton, the state's second-in-command, said on Twitter that she had mild symptoms and “will isolate as I recover.” She was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and had also received a booster shot.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 128,246 New Cases, 386 Deaths as Metrics Rise in Last Week

Illinois health officials reported 128,246 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 386 additional deaths and over 320,000 new vaccine doses administered.

The new cases and deaths mark a continued increase over the last several weeks.

Read more here.

Illinois to Align With New CDC Guidelines for Quarantine, Isolation

Illinois' health department said it will adopt the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's revised guidelines on isolation and quarantine for COVID.

The action by the CDC cut in half the recommended isolation time for Americans who are infected with the coronavirus but have no symptoms. The CDC similarly shortened the amount of time people who have come into close contact with an infected person need to quarantine.

Read more here.

Watch Live: Chicago's Top Doctor, CPS Hold COVID Update as Schools Prepare for Return from Winter Break

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez are scheduled to hold a press conference as schools across the city prepare for students to return from winter break as the city sees a surge in COVID cases.

The officials are expected to "remind parents and guardians of the safety precautions and mitigations efforts that will be in place when students return to school on Jan. 3," according to a release.

The address is slated for 1 p.m. at City Hall. Watch live in the player above.

Officials Learning More About Omicron Variant as COVID Cases Continue Their Rise

As the number of COVID cases in the United States approach record-highs, officials are learning more about the severity and impact of the omicron variant of the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, said that a new study out of South Africa has indicated that the omicron variant results in fewer ICU admissions, fewer patients in need of supplemental oxygen, and shorter hospital stays on average.

Even still, the sheer number of new cases is leading to concerns that hospitals could soon reach their breaking point, and doctors are pleading with patients to get vaccinated to give themselves the best chance of not becoming severely ill if they contract the virus.

Read more here.

What to Do If You Test Positive For COVID At Home, According to Area Experts

There's a new rush to get tested as more and more people search for tests while supplies grows more scarce, but now there are some new questions. What do you do if you test positive at home?

What should you do if your at-home COVID test results come back positive?

According to Chicago-area health departments, people should assume the test results are accurate and should isolate from others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

"If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "There is no need to repeat a positive at-home test in a medical setting. We don't want people going into the emergency department just to get a tested. Treat a positive as a positive, stay home and isolate for five days."

Read more here.

Illinois Children's Hospitals Report Highest COVID Numbers of Pandemic So Far

As COVID cases surge in Illinois, area children’s hospitals say they are seeing their biggest spike in cases and hospitalizations, with more kids testing positive than ever before during the coronavirus pandemic. NBC 5’s Lauren Petty has the story.

As COVID cases surge in Illinois, area children's hospitals say they are seeing their biggest spike in cases and hospitalizations, with more kids testing positive than ever before during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advocate Children's Hospital reported 34 children were being treated for COVID at their two campuses as of Wednesday.

“We've seen our biggest numbers in since the pandemic started actually," said Dr. Michael Cappello, vice chairman for the hospital.

Read more here.

Orland Park Votes Not to Enforce Cook County Proof-of-Vaccination Mandate

In less than a week, Cook County’s proof of vaccination mandate will take effect putting Orland Park businesses in the middle of a tug of war between the county’s edict and the vote of village trustees not to enforce the measure. NBC 5’s Chris Hush has the details.

In less than a week, Cook County’s proof of vaccination mandate will take effect putting Orland Park businesses in the middle of a tug of war between the county's edict and the vote of village trustees not to enforce the measure.

On Tuesday night, Orland Park trustees voted to defy the county’s upcoming proof of vaccination mandate, which is set to begin on Monday.

Now, businesses must choose whether to follow the county, or risk fines by following the village’s rules.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials Defend Decision to Proceed With NYE Fireworks Show Amid COVID Surge

As Chicago prepares to host its largest New Year’s fireworks display ever, city officials are defending the decision to carry on with the show amid a rapid rise in COVID cases, saying that the outdoor setting of the show and other factors will help to keep residents safe should they choose to join in on the celebrations.

During an OEMC press conference on Wednesday, both Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that officials have taken every factor into consideration when planning out the large fireworks display, and that they believe strongly that residents can stay safe while enjoying the show.

“Historically, we’ve seen people gather around the holidays at some level, regardless of the guidance that is given,” Arwady said. “I would much rather have people outside than inside if they are going to be gathering, and the idea of having done what we’ve done to space some of that out makes sense. Having something available to watch on TV at home gives some incentive to people (to stay home).”

Read more here.

Demand For COVID Testing Causes Supply Shortages and Longer Wait Times For Results

The nationwide surge in COVID testing has led to a shortage of testing supplies and even longer wait times for results. NBC 5's Vi Nguyen reports.

COVID testing sites across the city are trying to keep up with demand. The line at Howard Brown Health nearly wrapped around the building Wednesday morning.

Less than a mile away the line was out the door at a different location.

“It’s crazy because when I got here we were first ones,“ said one woman. “We got in and when we got out it was a big line. It’s like I got lucky.”

Read more here.

‘If You Think It's a Cold, It's Probably COVID:' Chicago's Top Doc Sends Warning Ahead of New Year's Eve

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the city, Chicago's top doctor said Wednesday that people experiencing cold-like symptoms should assume they have the coronavirus and isolate to prevent infecting others.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the city, Chicago's top doctor said Wednesday that people experiencing cold-like symptoms should assume they have the coronavirus and isolate to prevent infecting others.

"If you think it's a cold, if you think it's the flu, it's probably COVID," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a press conference. "We need you to stay home if you're not feeling well."

As more people gear up for New Year's Eve celebrations this weekend, Arwady asked that anyone who believes they could have COVID waiting for test results stay home for the holiday.

Read more here.

COVID by the Numbers: More Than 20K New Cases Reported in Illinois Within Last 24 Hours

Illinois’ surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations continued unabated on Wednesday, with more than 21,000 new cases and nearly 5,500 COVID-positive patients currently hospitalized throughout the state.

The state broke the 20,000-case barrier for the third time in six days on Wednesday, with 21,098 cases diagnosed in the last 24 hours.

That falls just short of the all-time record for cases in a single day, with Christmas Eve still holding the record at 21,131 new cases, according to IDPH data.

Read more here.

Chicago Sees Increase in Breakthrough Omicron COVID Cases, City's Top Doc Says

More Chicago residents are seeing breakthrough COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant, though data shows vaccines continue to provide a level of protection, according to the city's top doctor.

"The good news is that the vaccine is still highly protective against infection," said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. "Although, yes, we are seeing more breakthroughs with the omicron variant."

Arwady noted that unvaccinated residents remain at the biggest risk for COVID with most patients hospitalized for severe illness reporting that they have not received the vaccine.

Read more here.

Illinois Driver Services Facilities to Close in Early January Due to Increased COVID Cases

Illinois driver services facilities and Secretary of State departments will close for the first half of January due to increased COVID-19 cases statewide, Secretary of State Jesse White announced Wednesday.

The offices will not conduct in-person transactions from Jan. 3 through Jan. 17, 2022, though online services will remain open on the Illinois Secretary of State website, officials said.

“After careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close all Driver Services facilities beginning Jan. 3, 2022, through Jan. 17, 2022, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases,” White said. “The health and safety of employees and the public remains paramount, and face-to-face transactions potentially increase the further spread of the virus. Our goal is to safely reopen all offices and Driver Services facilities on January 18 for face-to-face transactions.”

Read more here.

Sore Throat? Runny Nose? The Common Omicron Symptoms to Know About

Breakthrough infections of the coronavirus are increasing in Chicago and Illinois, but health experts say it's likely that the symptoms you experience will depend on the vaccine.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the city's top doctor, said the omicron variant isn't necessarily bringing with it a new set of symptoms, but with vaccines now widely available, many are experiencing milder cases, depending on their vaccination status.

"The symptoms that we're seeing are not different with omicron than they were with delta, than they were with the original. It's just that we are seeing more what we call breakthrough infections," Arwady said Wednesday. "So the vaccines continue to protect, but not as well against infection, although they continue to protect beautifully against severe illness."

Read more here.

Deadline to Return CPS COVID Test Kits Extended After Reports of Overflowing Drop Boxes

The deadline for parents to return COVID test kits for Chicago Public Schools students during the winter break has been extended at some locations after parents and the city's teachers union reported overflowing drop boxes Tuesday.

CPS announced Tuesday that it added an additional drop-off location for families and extended the deadline to return test kits at designated libraries to 5 p.m. Thursday.

Read more here.

Chicago Expert Breaks Down New CDC Isolation Guidelines Amid Omicron-Driven COVID Surge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidelines on isolation for symptom-free COVID patients and for those exposed to the virus, prompting many experts and residents to question the decision and to urge those who have tested positive for COVID to remain cautious.

Dr. Emily Landon of UChicago Medicine was asked to break down the new guidelines for NBC 5, and to explain the steps that residents need to take when adhering to the rules.

Here's what she said.

Omicron Symptoms: What to Watch for and How They May Differ Based on Vaccine Status

With omicron now the dominant strain in the U.S. and cases rapidly rising across Illinois and the country, experts say there are some symptoms that appear prominent with the new COVID variant and differ from what many came to expect with the delta variant.

Dr. Katherine Poehling, an infectious disease specialist and member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told NBC News last week that a cough, congestion, runny nose and fatigue appear to be prominent symptoms with the omicron variant. But unlike delta, many patients are not losing their taste or smell.

But some experts suggest the symptoms could depend on vaccination status and underlying health conditions.

Read more here.

‘Omicron and Delta Are Coming to Your Party:' Pritzker, Ezike Urge COVID Precautions at New Year's Celebrations

Surging coronavirus cases brought on by the delta and omicron variants have put a damper on New Year's celebrations across the globe, forcing many to be cancelled or scaled back.

Overall, health officials assert that cancelling celebrations is the safest way to protect one's self and others from the newest variants. But with the pandemic causing disruptions for another year and people eager to celebrate, leaders in Illinois realize not everyone may take that route.

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered a blunt message in hope of persuading residents to say home: "Omicron and delta are coming to your party," the governor said, as he urged people to take care and think twice about taking part in large gatherings.

Read more here.

Can At-Home COVID Tests Detect the Omicron Variant? Here's What the FDA and Researchers Say

With a soaring number of COVID cases and testing sites seeing high demand, at-home tests have often become the more convenient option.

But some doctors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor and the top U.S. infectious disease expert, have cautioned that not all at-home antigen tests may be able to adequately detect the omicron variant.

Read more here.

Updated CDC Guidelines for COVID Exposure: Timeline, Quarantine, Contagious Period

What steps should you take if someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for coronavirus? How long are you contagious, what are the quarantine guidelines and when is it safe to see people again?

U.S. health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.

The change is aimed at people who are not experiencing symptoms. People with symptoms during isolation, or who develop symptoms during quarantine, are encouraged to stay home.

Here's the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do if you test positive or believe you were exposed to someone who has.

Here's Where Vaccine Proof Will Be Required in Chicago Next Year

Beginning Jan. 3, Chicago will require proof of vaccination for many indoor public spaces as the city works to combat what officials are calling "the biggest COVID surge that we have seen since before vaccines were available."

Here are the places where vaccine proof will be required - and where it won't.

Swollen Lymph Nodes After COVID Booster Shot? Here's What Experts Say That Means

Have you experienced a swollen lymph node in the arm where you received your COVID vaccine or booster shot?

You're not alone.

In fact, while you may not have experienced it with your initial doses of the vaccine, there's still a chance you could see it following a booster shot.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine side effect is actually more common with booster shots or additional doses than it is with initial doses of the COVID vaccines.

But the CDC said it is not a side effect to worry about.

Here's why.

Booster Shots and Omicron: Is Moderna or Pfizer Performing Better? Here's the Data So Far

Both Moderna and Pfizer have released early data showing the effectiveness of their vaccines and booster doses as the new omicron variant begins to take hold and as COVID cases rise across the U.S.

But is one performing better than the other?

Here's what we know so far.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on Tuesday gave a breakdown on which COVID-19 variant is currently leading the surge in the Midwest. While 99.9% of the COVID cases are of delta variant as of now, she predicted that the omicron variant will soon spread quickly based on the studies from other countries.

Omicron Severity, Symptoms, Risk of Breakthrough Cases: What We Know So Far

Experts had been saying that more information on the omicron variant was expected in the weeks following its detection.

Now, about a month since the new COVID variant was identified in South Africa and two weeks since it was first recorded in the U.S., what do we know?

Chicago's top doctor said that while we are still learning about the variant and research continues to develop, an early look at the latest data has led to some findings so far.

Here's a breakdown of what we know.

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