coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: COVID Alert Levels for Chicago Area, Long COVID Aid

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

NBC Universal, Inc.

Where do things stand with COVID in the Chicago area?

New data was released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week as health experts continue to monitor for a potential post-holiday surge.

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

Entire Chicago Area Under 'Medium' COVID Alert Level

In the latest data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the entire Chicago area sits under the "medium" COVID alert level.

The CDC's weekly updated community levels were released Thursday.

At "medium" status, anyone at high risk of getting seriously ill should wear a high-quality mask or respirator, such as an N95, when in public indoors. Additionally, if you have contact with someone else at high risk, consider self-testing to detect infection before contact, according to the CDC.

Here's What People With Long COVID Need to Know About Navigating Health Insurance

Navigating the health insurance system is often difficult and overwhelming, even in the best of times. For patients with long COVID, a relatively new condition that frequently leaves patients with a lengthy and unpredictable list of debilitating symptoms, it can be especially nightmarish.

"Even if you remain on the same [health insurance] plan you had before COVID, you will probably utilize the health-care system more, whether it be more office visits, more prescription medications or even more medical devices," said Caitlin Donovan, a spokesperson for the National Patient Advocate Foundation.

Indeed, nearly half of people with long COVID reported increased medical expenses, according to a recent survey conducted by the Patient Advocate Foundation.

Read more here.

US Now Requires People Traveling From China to Take COVID-19 Test: CDC

The U.S. announced new COVID-19 testing requirements last week for all travelers from China, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections. Those measures took effect Thursday.

The increase in cases across China follows the rollback of the nation's strict anti-virus controls. China's “zero COVID” policies had kept the country's infection rate low but fueled public frustration and crushed economic growth.

The new U.S. requirements, which started Jan. 5, apply to travelers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status.

Read more here.

Damar Hamlin's Collapse Spurs New Wave of Vaccine Misinformation Online

Unfounded claims about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines proliferated in the hours and days after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday's game, revealing how pervasive vaccine misinformation remains three years after the pandemic began.

Even before Hamlin was carried off the field in Cincinnati, posts amassing thousands of shares and millions of views began circulating online claiming without evidence that complications from COVID-19 vaccines caused his health emergency.

Read more here.

New COVID Variant XBB 1.5 Quickly Rising in Dominance. Here's Why That Matters

The new, highly-contagious COVID variant XBB.1.5 is already the dominant variant in the U.S., with its numbers more than doubling each week for the last month.

Tracking numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that, as of Saturday, the XBB.1.5 variant now makes up more than 40% of cases in the U.S. Four weeks ago, that number was just 3.7%.

Read more here.

Are Symptoms Changing With New COVID Variant Rising? Here's What Chicago's Top Doc Said

The Covid omicron XBB.1.5 variant has nearly doubled in prevalence over the past week and now represents about 41% of new cases in the U.S., according to CDC data.

As a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant quickly gains prevalence locally and nationally, many are wondering if the XBB.1.5 strain presents new symptoms than previous strains of the virus.

While the variant is still presenting symptoms that have been noted to be consistent with COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, Arwady noted that flu-like symptoms are not as prevalent with XBB.1.5, particularly for those who are vaccinated and boosted.

Read more here.

New COVID Variant XBB.1.5: What It Is, Symptoms and What You Should Know

The COVID omicron XBB.1.5 variant is rapidly becoming dominant in the U.S. because it is highly immune evasive and appears more effective at binding to cells than related subvariants, scientists say.

A new COVID variant, marking a fusion between two recent strains that is even more contagious than its predecessors, is beginning to take hold in the U.S., but what exactly is it, how serious is it and what are the symptoms?

Here's a look at what we know so far and what experts are saying.

Move On From COVID? Child Care Disruptions Continue

For working parents of young children, it seems the rest of the world has moved on from the pandemic. But unending illness and child care disruptions have upended many families' lives.

Vaccines for young kids and the end of quarantines for COVID exposure were supposed to bring relief. Instead, young families were treated to what some called a “tripledemic.” Flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus cases collided, stressing children’s hospitals and threatening the child care system. And doctors and parents fear disruptive illnesses will continue this winter.

Even parents of babies with less serious cases of COVID-19 have run into 10-day isolation rules that have taxed the patience of employers.

Flu and RSV on the Decline But COVID Hospitalizations Rise

COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising in the United States, even as hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus and the flu continue to fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that, while flu is still spreading at high levels, virus activity is falling in "most areas." For the week ending Dec. 24, around 18,800 people were hospitalized with flu, down from around 20,700 hospitalizations the week prior.

Read more here.

54 Illinois Counties at an Elevated COVID-19 Community Level as Cases Drop

As holiday celebrations wrap up across the state and country, cases of COVID-19 in Illinois have substantially dropped since last week's reporting according to the CDC, although a drop in testing over the holidays may have played a factor.

All counties in the Chicago area are at a "medium" COVID-19 community level, with DuPage, Kendall and DeKalb counties dropping from "high" to "medium" over the past seven days.

CDC data shows that 54 of Illinois' 102 counties are currently at a "high" or "medium" community level, down from 88 counties at an elevated level last week.

Read more here.

Here's Where COVID Rules for Visitors From China Are Changing

Some countries announced new COVID testing requirements for visitors from China after the mainland said it would finally relax border controls.

Japan was the first country to subsequently release rule changes, followed by the U.S. and others. COVID-19 infections surged this month in mainland China, but there is limited data available publicly.

Here are some of the latest policy changes for travelers from China.

U.S. Records 100 Million COVID Cases, But More Than 200 Million Americans Have Probably Had It

The U.S. recorded more than 100 million formally diagnosed and reported COVID-19 cases this week, but the number of Americans who've actually had the virus since the beginning of the pandemic is probably more than twice as high.

COVID-19 has easily infected more than 200 million in the U.S. alone since the beginning of the pandemic — some people more than once. The virus continues to evolve into more transmissible variants that dodge immunity from vaccination and prior infection, making transmission incredibly difficult to control as we go into the fourth year of the pandemic.

Read more here.

What Are the Best Masks to Wear for COVID-19, Other Respiratory Illnesses?

The simultaneous threat of COVID-19, RSV and flu continues to circulate, spurring health agencies to recommend that people once against start what used to be a mainstay during the height of the pandemic: masking.

While face coverings aren't currently recommended in the entirety of the Chicago area, masks are being advised in some portions following an uptick in COVID-19 metrics.

Read more here.

What Are ‘Never-Coviders'?

Not to be confused with people who have not yet caught COVID-19, researchers believe the section of the population that are naturally immune to the virus (never-coviders) won’t ever get sick.

Not to be confused with people who have not yet caught COVID-19, researchers believe the section of the population that are naturally immune to the virus (never-coviders) won’t ever get sick.

Watch here.

You Can Get Free COVID Tests From the Government. Here's How

Once again, U.S. residents can get free COVID tests delivered right to their homes.

The Biden Administration announced Dec. 15 that it's offering households four rapid virus tests through, so how can you get yours?

Read more here.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
Contact Us