coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: COVID Testing Company Closed, Latest on Restrictions

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With both Illinois and Chicago apparently passed the omicron variant peak, when do officials predict they might begin lifting COVID restrictions once again?

Plus, a local COVID testing company won't reopen for the "foreseeable future" as the Illinois Attorney General's office investigates complaints.

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

Coronavirus in Illinois: 183K New Cases, 746 Deaths in Last Week as Cases Drop, Deaths Rise

Illinois health officials reported 183,722 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 746 additional deaths and over 310,000 new vaccine doses administered.

The new cases mark a decline from the previous week, which saw 207,203 new cases, but the deaths marked an increase compared to the previous seven days, which reported 738.

The drop in cases comes as state officials report the omicron peak has been reached, particularly surrounding hospitalizations.

Read more here.

COVID Testing Company Closed for 'Foreseeable Future' Amid Investigation: Illinois AG

A suburban Chicago-based COVID-19 testing company will not be reopening for the “foreseeable future,” according to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, which is investigating complaints against the company.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the Center for COVID Control, which had already voluntarily suspended operations during the investigation, has agreed to "postpone the reopening of any pop-up testing locations in Illinois for the foreseeable future."

“Although the company voluntarily suspended operations, my office contacted company officials to demand that the Center for COVID Control immediately stop engaging in any fraudulent or deceptive conduct, particularly with respect to the delivery of testing results or billing," Raoul said in a statement. "In addition to evaluating residents’ complaints, attorneys from my Consumer Fraud Division interviewed former employees of the Center for COVID Control."

Read more here.

Where You Can Get Free, At-Home COVID Tests and How

At-home COVID-19 tests have been in high demand since before the holidays, but now there are increasing ways to get them for free.

Previously the tests were available at many pharmacies like Walgreens and Walmart with an average test costing around $25.

But earlier this month, the Biden administration announced private insurers must cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month. Then, the White House launched a website and now a hotline offering free at-home test kits for households across the country.

Still, certain restrictions apply and there have been several questions surrounding the moves.

Here's what you should know.

Illinois Driver Services Facilities Reopen Monday After COVID Surge Caused Closure

Illinois driver services facilities and Secretary of State departments will reopen Monday for in-person transactions, officials announced Thursday, after locations statewide closed due to elevated COVID-19 cases.

Driver service facilities across Illinois have been closed since Jan. 3, though online services have remained open on the Illinois Secretary of State website, Secretary of State Jesse White said in a news release.

Driver service facilities operating on a Tuesday through Saturday schedule will reopen on Tuesday, White added.

Details here.

Will There Be Another COVID Variant After Omicron? Here's What Chicago's Top Doctor Says

As the Chicago area has likely "passed the peak" of the omicron COVID-19 variant, according to the city's top doctor, could there be another strain on the horizon?

"I don't think we're done with variants," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live event.

Though new strains are expected to invade across the globe, Arwady said she's not sure what will "happen next after omicron," but hopes any future variants will be less infections and less severe.

Read more here.

What Does Omicron Peak Mean for Vaccine Mandate, COVID Restrictions?

As Chicago sees early signs of decline from the omicron surge, with officials in both the city and Illinois saying a peak has been reached, what will that mean for vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions in the city?

Chicago's top doctor said the city will be lifting restrictions "at some point," but exactly when remains unclear and with metrics still heightened, it likely won't be soon.

"When we get back down into that sort of moderate-low risk, we will not have the vaccination requirements in place because the vaccination requirement is in place in high risk settings and that setting is especially high risk when the numbers are high, etc., etc.," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Thursday. "However, the timing of that? I don't know yet."

Read more here.

Here's Where You Can Find a Free N95 Mask Starting Next Week in the Chicago Area

The Biden administration is expected to make 400 million N95 masks available for free to U.S. residents starting next week, and several pharmacies and community health centers announced they will participate in the program.

Chicago-area pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Walmart said they will partner with the federal government to distribute free N95 masks, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends for the highest protection against COVID-19.

Here's a list of where you can find a free N95 mask, according to the CDC.

Planning to Attend ‘Disney On Ice'? Here's What You Should Know About COVID Protocols

"Disney On Ice" returned to Chicago Thursday and Rosemont's Allstate Arena has an updated set of coronavirus guidelines that went into effect earlier this month.

Due to Cook County's latest COVID protocols, all Allstate Arena guests age 5 and older must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and wear a mask while indoors.

More on the guidelines here.

Even as Illinois Starts to Move Past Omicron Peak, Officials Warn Public to Keep Guard Up

As Illinois begins to move past a peak in an omicron-driven surge of COVID cases, political leaders and health care workers are reminding the public to keep their guard up in an effort to continue that trend.

Both Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during press availabilities on Wednesday that the state has begun to move past the omicron peak.

While health care workers and state officials say that there is reason for cautious optimism, they are also warning that it is too early to stand down on key practices and mitigations.

Read more here.

Can You Get Omicron More Than Once? Chicago's Top Doctor Answers

With the omicron variant leading to increased infections in people who previously had COVID-19, is it possible that someone who has an omicron case now could contract the same strain of the virus again?

The answer isn't exactly clear yet, according to public health experts.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said such information remains to be seen.

Read more here.

Booster Shots and Omicron: Side Effects, Eligibility and More

The omicron variant has led to a heightened push for booster shots around the country, with more ages becoming eligible and some groups now able to get their extra dose sooner than others.

Across Illinois, booster shot clinics have been sprouting up in recent weeks, including in several Chicago-area suburbs over the weekend. Mass vaccination sites are reopening in a number of Cook County suburbs this week, offering booster shots as well as initial doses.

But what do we know about booster shot efficacy, side effects and more, particularly surrounding the omicron variant?

Here's what we know so far.

Omicron, Flu, 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 early signs of COVID-19 or the flu, you're not alone.

With many experiencing cold-like symptoms, and with COVID and flu cases rising this winter, 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.

"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 late last month. "We need you to stay home if you're not feeling well."

Read more here.

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