coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Potential for ‘Super Immunity,' State Sets 2021 Record for Daily Cases

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As some health experts warn of the potential for more breakthrough COVID infections as omicron cases rise, a new study indicates such infections could lead to what's being called "super immunity."

Meanwhile, as cases continue to rise, this week marks the start of a busy holiday travel period that is expected to exceed numbers seen in 2020.

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

Illinois Sets New Daily COVID Case Record for 2021 as State Now Averaging 10K Cases Per Day

The state of Illinois has set another new high watermark for COVID cases in 2021, with health officials reporting more than 12,000 new confirmed and probable cases of the virus in the last 24 hours.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has reported 12,328 new cases of the virus in the last day, the most it has recorded in a single day in 2021.

The 12,328 new cases are the most in a single day since all the way back on Dec. 1, 2020, when 12,542 new cases were reported, according to IDPH data.

The new cases reported Monday also pushed the state beyond another threshold, as Illinois is now averaging more than 10,000 new cases of COVID per day over the last seven days. That is the first time the state has eclipsed that threshold since Nov. 2020, IDPH officials said.

In fact, the average number of new daily COVID cases has gone up by 390% since Oct. 24, according to IDPH data.

Omicron Could Become Dominant Strain in US in Next Few Weeks, Health Experts Say

Much of the U.S. is currently battling a surge in COVID cases spurred by the extra-contagious delta variant, but the new and even more contagious omicron variant could soon take over as the dominant strain in the country in the coming weeks, health experts say.

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week that the new variant will likely bring another surge on top of the delta surge, making up a majority of cases in the next three weeks.

That's a timeline other experts agreed on.

Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky echoed Fauci's projection during a briefing Friday and Dr. Robert Citronberg, the executive medical director for infectious disease and prevention at Advocate Aurora Health, told NBC 5 a similar time frame.

"Delta is still the predominant strain circulating in our area and throughout the country, though omicron is really catching up pretty quickly," Citronberg said. "Just even a couple of weeks ago, we didn't know about any omicron... and in probably the next few weeks, it will become the dominant strain in our country."

Read more here.

COVID Hospitalizations Hit New 2021 Highs in Illinois as Cases Surge

As Illinois sees rapid gains in new cases, it is also seeing a surge in newly-hospitalized coronavirus patients, with more residents seeking emergency medical care than at any point so far this year.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are currently 3,960 patients hospitalized because of COVID in the state. That number marks the highest number of hospitalizations that the state has seen since Dec. 29, 2020, IDPH says.

As of Monday, approximately 21% of the state’s hospital beds are currently open, but that availability is being eaten into as COVID hospitalizations have increased by more than 50% so far this month.

The number of critically-ill COVID patients is also on the site. According to state officials, 811 COVID patients are currently in intensive care unit beds, the most the state has seen since Jan. 5 of this year.

You can read more here.

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.

Moderna Says Booster Works Against Omicron in Tests, Raises Antibodies 37-Fold

Moderna said Monday its COVID-19 booster does appear to provide protection against the omicron variant that is currently surging across the world.

In an announcement early Monday, the drug company said preliminary data from lab testing found the version of its booster currently in use in the United States and elsewhere provided increased antibody levels to neutralize the virus. But it also found that a double dose of the booster shot provided a much greater increase in those levels.

The news is the latest sign that booster shots are an effective way to protect against the new variant, which has driven a rapid increase in case numbers since first emerging last month.

Read more here.

Holiday Travel Rush Begins This Week as COVID Cases Rise. What Travelers Should Know

The holiday travel rush kicks off this week, with more people expected to visit family and friends compared to last year as COVID cases continue to rise across the U.S.

AAA predicts more than 100 million people will hit the roads, sky and other forms of transportation over the Christmas holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration reported just over 2 million travelers on Saturday alone. That's well over the just over 1 million reported for the same day in 2020, but short of the 2.4 million seen in 2019.

Read more here.

As COVID Cases Rise and Omicron Looms, Illinois Medical Workers Express Frustrations

As Illinois hospitals face another surge in COVID patients, and with the threat of the omicron variant looming, burned-out health care workers are pleading with the public to take reasonable precautions as the holiday season ramps up.

“It’s hard when I read what I wrote eight months into the pandemic, and now we’re 20 months in and it’s all still going on,” Carol Williams, an ICU nurse in Aurora, told NBC 5.

Williams first spoke to NBC last year, and she’s talking again this holiday season, urging residents to take steps to help do their part to end the pandemic once and for all.

Read more here.

‘The Nutcracker' Resumes Sunday in Chicago After COVID-Related Cancellation

Performances of the Joffrey Ballet's holiday classic "The Nutcracker" return to Chicago's Lyric Opera House Sunday after a breakthrough COVID-19 case within company ranks forced the cancellations of three shows.

Shows scheduled for 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday will take place as originally planned, the Joffrey Ballet said in a tweet, adding it has conducted a "thorough COVID-19 testing protocol" and determined its safe to hold the remaining performances scheduled through Dec. 26.

Read more here.

COVID-19 Infection After Vaccine May Create ‘Super Immunity,' Study Finds

People who contract a breakthrough infection after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine may acquire a "super immunity" to the virus, researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University found.

A study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, revealed antibodies in blood samples of those with breakthrough infections were as much as 1,000% times more effective than those generated two weeks following the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

As part of the study, blood samples were collected from 52 people, all university employees who received the Pfizer vaccine. A total of 26 people were identified as having mild breakthrough infections following vaccination. Of those cases, 10 involved the highly-contagious delta variant, nine were non-delta and seven were unknown variants, according to the study.

Read more here.

Surging COVID Cases in Chicago Force Cancellations of Musical, Sporting Events

With Christmas just days away, a steep rise in coronavirus cases is already putting a damper on the holiday season in Chicago, forcing the cancellation of sporting events, musicals and holiday-themed events.

Since Thursday, multiple theaters across the city have announced the cancellation or postponement of shows because of COVID-19 outbreaks affecting cast and crew members.

"The Nutcracker," a holiday favorite put on by the Joffrey Ballet, canceled both of its shows scheduled for Saturday at the Lyric Opera House due to a breakthrough case within company ranks. Performances will resume Sunday, with the 1 and 6 p.m. shows taking place as regularly scheduled, according to "The Nutcracker" website.

Read more here.

At-Home COVID Tests: What to Know About Negative Results

Experts are encouraging the use of at-home COVID tests for holiday gatherings this year with COVID cases rising across the state and country, but what happens if you get a false negative?

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady recently advised using the tests for the holidays as another tool to prevent spread.

While the most accurate form of COVID testing is a PCR test, no at-home tests currently authorized offer this method and instead rely on antigen testing.

Arwady said that while PCR tests may detect COVID earlier because they are more sensitive, at-home antigen tests are similar to a pregnancy test in that "they're not looking for the genetic material of the virus itself, they're just looking for, you know, for a protein."

Home tests will miss some infections and in rare cases mistakenly indicate an infection. One popular test misses around 15 out of 100 infections — these are called “false negatives” — and gives a false positive result in about 1 in 100 people who aren’t infected.

Read more here.

Cook County Health Officials Recommend New Mitigations as Suspected Omicron Cases Rise

Cook County health officials warned Friday that "suspected cases of the omicron variant are rising... and are likely to escalate quickly," prompting them to issue new mitigation recommendations in Chicago's suburbs.

The county said that while the delta variant remains the prominent variant, case counts, case rates, test positivity, hospitalizations and deaths "are all increasing."

"CCDPH is issuing Increased mitigation practices for individuals and businesses," the county health department said in a release. "CCDPH urges suburban Cook County residents to follow them to slow the spread of COVID-19. We must continue to work together to keep each other healthy and to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system."

Now, with the holidays approaching, area health officials are urging the public and businesses to follow these mitigations.

Illinois' Top Doc: 'This is Setting Up to Be a Very Deadly COVID Christmas and New Years'

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike warned Friday that "this is setting up to be a very deadly COVID Christmas and New Years" as she delivered an address about rising metrics in one state health care region.

"Hospital bed availability has reached a critically low level, demand on resources is high and the wait times in local emergency departments are very long," Ezike said in her address to Region 1, which encompasses several counties surrounding the Rockford area.

Read more here.

Is the Omicron Variant Less Severe Than Delta? Here's What Experts Are Saying

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday there is increased confidence that omicron "is likely to spread quickly" and even faster than the delta variant, which is behind the latest surge in the U.S., but how severe are those cases becoming?

Experts had said that in the week's following the variant's initial detection more would be learned about how it spreads and how severe it could be. Health officials have cautioned that while initial cases have appeared mild, the variant could still be dangerous to communities and severe cases are still possible.

Here's a full breakdown.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 59,312 New Cases, 316 Deaths as Metrics Rise in Last Week

Illinois health officials reported 59,312 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 316 additional deaths and over 467,000 new vaccine doses administered.

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

In all, 1,944,056 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths reported over the past five days bring the state to 27,117 confirmed COVID fatalities.

Read more here.

Illinois Extends Driver's License and ID Card Expiration Dates For Final Time

Expiration dates for Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards have been extended an additional three months, Secretary of State Jesse White announced Friday.

The extension moves the deadline for driver's licenses and ID cards from Jan. 1, 2022, to March 31, 2022. White's office noted that the extension does not apply to commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and CDL learner’s permits.

This will be the final extension, White said.

Read more here.

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.

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.

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

What should you do if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for coronavirus? How long are you contagious, what are the quarantine guidelines and when can you see people again?

Here's a look at the 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.

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