coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Free Tests for Some Residents, Pop-Up Site Controversy

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

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Looking for free COVID-19 tests? There are now multiple ways for Illinois residents to get them.

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

Free COVID Test Kits: How Illinois Residents Can Get Them and Where

There are now multiple ways some Illinois residents can order free COVID test kits, but your options depend on where you live as new state and federal programs begin.

In certain ZIP codes in 14 Illinois counties, thousands of at-home, rapid COVID tests are being made available for free, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced last week.

That's on top of a government program that launched earlier this month for all Americans.

Here's what to know about how and where residents in the state can get free COVID test kits.

USPS Free COVID Tests: How to Order, When to Expect Shipments and More

The United States Postal Service released an update last week regarding free COVID tests as deliveries continued to arrive at homes nationwide.

“The United States Postal Service is proud to fulfill its mission of service to the nation by delivering COVID test kits as part of this important public health initiative of the Biden Administration," Postmaster General and CEO Louis DeJoy said in a statement Friday.

The website to order the free tests for your household launched earlier this month, with some beginning to arrive earlier last week.

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

Internal Docs Show Path to Controversial COVID Testing Company's Quick Rise

It has been a rough week for pop-up COVID testing companies as state and federal investigations heat up on some of its major players. An industry that cropped up fast may be suffering a similarly rapid end.

Center for COVID Control, the Rolling Meadows-based testing company that managed hundreds of testing sites and is now the source of many federal and state probes, may be closing.

The company’s owners told employees in a Thursday night video conference, according to a news report by Block Club Chicago.

A statement to NBC 5 Responds didn't go that far, saying it will suspend operations indefinitely.

Read more here.

Incubation Period: How Long Should You Quarantine With a COVID Infection?

As coronavirus cases continue to spread throughout Chicago and Illinois and officials update incubation period guidance, how long should you quarantine with an infection?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its guidance, shifting the timing for isolation and quarantine as some experts say the time frame when people are most contagious is earlier.

Here's what we know.

Residents in These Illinois ZIP Codes Can Get Free At-Home COVID Tests From IDPH

In 14 Illinois counties, thousands of at-home, rapid COVID tests are being made available for free, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday.

According to the department, 225,000 test kits are being made available through Project Access COVID Tests to residents in certain zip codes.

Residents in the eligible communities can order the tests via, where they can sign up for a free home delivery. Each household will then receive five tests, or one kit, within two weeks of ordering. Shipping is free, IDPH noted.

List of eligible ZIP codes here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 123K New Cases, 843 Deaths in Last Week as Cases Drop, Deaths Rise

Illinois health officials reported 123,812 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 843 additional deaths and over 310,000 new vaccine doses administered, marking yet another drop in cases but a rise in deaths from the previous week.

Last week, the state reported 183,722 new cases and 746 deaths.

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

Read more here.

Downstate Illinois Judge Considers Request to Remove Mask Mandate in Schools

While Illinois' COVID positivity rate is coming down, there are still mask mandates in place. A downstate judge is considering a request to temporarily remove the rule on masks in schools as well as the quarantine guidelines. Where does it all stand? NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reports.

Walgreens Begins Distributing Free N95 Masks. Where to Get Them in the Chicago Area

Walgreens on Friday announced it has started distributing its first wave of free N95 masks from the government, but the locations where you can get them so far is limited.

In the Chicago area, two stores were on the initial list of locations, but the Illinois-based pharmacy chain said more will be coming soon.

"Masks have begun to rollout to the first wave of stores and will continue to rollout into additional stores in the coming days and weeks," the company said in a statement. "We anticipate all participating stores will receive supply by mid-February."

See the list of locations.

Is 'Stealth Omicron' a New COVID Variant? Here's What Experts Say

With experts around the globe now talking about a so-called "stealth omicron" variant, many are wondering what exactly is it and is it a new COVID variant?

Chicago's top doctor said "stealth omicron," also known as BA.2, is not technically a new COVID variant, and has not yet been classified as a variant of interest or concern by international authorities. It's actually a subvariant or sub-type of the omicron variant.

"It's still omicron," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday. "It's just... sort of certain letters point one versus certain letters point two. It's a slight variation in terms of what is being picked up, but I want to be really clear it has not even been classified as a variant of interest yet... this isn't even a new variant, it's just considered a slightly different flavor of the kernel and we've seen that before."

Read more here.

'Stealth Omicron': What is It, Where Has it Been Detected and Should You Be Worried?

A version of the omicron variant dubbed "stealth omicron" is being monitored by scientists and health experts around the world as it has been detected in more than 40 countries, but what is it and what does it mean for the pandemic?

This version of the coronavirus, which scientists call BA.2, is widely considered stealthier than the original version of omicron because particular genetic traits make it somewhat harder to detect. Some scientists worry it could also be more contagious.

But they say there’s a lot they still don’t know about it, including whether it evades vaccines better or causes more severe disease.

Chicago's top doctor said the city is "keeping an eye on" the omicron subtype.

"There's nothing that we've seen at this point that is raising a high level of concern but please rest assured we're watching it and we'll let you know if there's anything to be interested or concerned about," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.

Here's what we know about "stealth omicron" so far.

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