coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Free Mask Distribution Begins, 2 Years Since State's First Case

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Free N95 masks from the government are starting to be handed out at some stores as Illinois continues its battle against the coronavirus pandemic two years since the state marked its first COVID case.

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

Free COVID Tests From the Government Now Being Mailed. Here's How to Get Yours

One week after the government launched its new website for Americans to get free COVID tests sent to their homes, some who placed early orders have reported deliveries are being made.

Some on social media reported receiving their tests in the mail already by Tuesday while others received emailed delivery updates saying their orders were expected to arrive later this week.

Here's a breakdown of what to know about the tests and how to place your order.

Chicago's Top Doctor to Give COVID-19 Update

Chicago's top doctor is set to give a COVID-19 update Tuesday afternoon.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, joined by CDPH Medical Director Dr. Geraldine Luna and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez, are scheduled to hold a press conference at 1 p.m. to "provide an update on COVID-19 cases and data, talk about the decline of COVID cases in Chicago, and update on how CPS is addressing COVID."

Watch live in the player above.

Free N95 Masks Now Available at Some Illinois Stores and More Are Coming

Some Illinois stores and pharmacies have already started distributing free N95 masks from the government to area residents.

Meijer began handing out free N95 masks to shoppers Monday, becoming one of the first major retail chains to do so as part of a Biden administration initiative.

Meijer isn't the only Midwest chain to have started giving out masks.

Des-Moines based Hy-Vee, which operates more than a dozen stores in Illinois, said the majority of its locations in the state have received shipments of N95 masks and started distribution.

Read more here.

Illinois Marks 2 Years Since First COVID-19 Case

The first COVID-19 case in Illinois was announced two years ago Monday, on Jan. 24, 2020, according to state health officials.

The case was detected in a Chicago resident in her 60s who returned from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the first coronavirus outbreak, the Illinois Department of Public Health said at the time.

In a news release Monday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of IDPH, said when the first case was announced, "We were not imagining that two years later we would still be battling the virus with this ferocity."

Read more here.

Illinois Announces COVID-19 Sick Leave for Vaccinated School Employees

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday a statewide initiative to provide paid administrative leave for school employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a news release, Pritzker explained he negotiated with the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers to keep students and teachers in the classroom safely without penalizing vaccinated employees who take sick time.

Read more here.

Highland Park City Council Extends Proof-of-Vaccination Order

Highland Park's city council on Monday decided to extend a temporary order requiring proof of vaccination.

The order requiring proof of vaccination for "on-premise dining establishment" began Jan. 7 and was extended to Feb. 14 at the council's meeting Monday night.

Some restaurant owners say the mandate is hurting their bottom line and leading to many customers going elsewhere to eat.

Currently, restaurants that don't comply with the order are first issued a warning. If another complaint is received, an inspector visits the property and a notice of violation may be formally issued. A citation may be issued to businesses who fail to comply, up to $750, according to the city.

Read more here.

FBI Searches Headquarters of COVID Testing Company in Illinois

The FBI has searched the headquarters of a suburban Chicago-based COVID-19 testing company at the center of a state investigation.

A spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Inspector General told NBC News on Monday that federal agents had executed a search warrant at the Rolling Meadows headquarters for the Center for COVID Control, which operates pop-up COVID testing sites around the country.

The FBI spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that the agency conducted “court -authorized law enforcement activity in Rolling Meadows” on Saturday. 

Read more here.

KN95, N95 and More: A Look at the Different Masks and What You Should Know About Each

KN95s, N95s, cloth, surgical and more - there are a lot of options when it comes to wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

With pharmacies across the country preparing to distribute free N95 masks as part of a new government effort, what should you know about the different kinds of masks and how to properly use them?

Here's a breakdown.

Walgreens Preparing for First Stores to Offer Free N95 Masks Friday

Walgreens is preparing to begin distributing free N95 masks this week, but when exactly can customers expect to be able to get one and how will they know which stores have them?

According to the Illinois-based pharmacy chain, the first stores to offer up free masks are expected to begin distribution as early as Friday.

"We expect the first stores to begin offering masks on Friday, January 28 and will continue on a rolling basis in the days and weeks following," a spokesperson for the company told NBC 5 in a statement. "Participating stores will have signage indicating mask availability."

Read more here.

Is Sneezing a Symptom of COVID? How to Tell the Difference Between the Virus, Allergies and Flu

Is sneezing a symptom of COVID-19?

Allergy-sufferers have been asking whether their recent symptoms are caused by the chilly environment, a cold, the flu or the coronavirus.

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

Read more here.

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