Chicago's top doctor issued a warning about a drug some are taking to treat coronavirus infections.
Meanwhile, local doctors studying the virus say unvaccinated populations across the world could be responsible for the emergence of more variants.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
After 26-Year-Old Man Dies From Virus, Girlfriend Advocates For COVID Vaccine
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After her long-time 26-year-old boyfriend died of COVID-19, Lounaeha Young decided to get the vaccine in his honor and tell their story.
"We look at pictures. We look at videos every day and he just point and says 'that's my daddy,'" Young said of her 3-year-old son Legend, remembering his father, Solomon Deloach.
The 26-year-old father was diagnosed with COVID in late July and passed away four days after entering the hospital. Young said Deloach was not vaccinated against the virus and had underlying health conditions.
"I never knew that at 26, someone that I planned to spend the rest of my life is no longer here," Young said. "I would never have thought that, ever."
Read their story here.
Study Data on COVID Vaccine for Children Under 12 Could be Released Next Month, Doctors Say
With clinical trials underway to determine the safety of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for children under the age of 12, doctors say that data could be released next month that could pave the way for emergency use authorizations for the treatments later this year.
A doctor supervising the Moderna clinical trial at Chicago's Lurie Children’s Hospital says he expects authorization could come this fall for kids age five to 11, and by the end of the year for younger children.
Both Moderna and Pfizer have clinical trials underway for their coronavirus vaccines for kids under the ages of 12 that have been going on for months. According to a Pfizer spokesperson, Phases 2 and 3 of their clinical studies were launched in June, testing the vaccine on children between the ages of 6 months and 11 years old.
Read more here.
WATCH: Should You Space Out Your Flu Shot and COVID-19 Vaccine? Chicago's Top Doctor Says No
Allergies or COVID? What to Know About Your Symptoms and When to Get Tested
With cases of the delta coronavirus variant sparking surges across the country and fall allergy season beginning, it might be hard to distinguish whether that runny nose is from pollen or something more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies, colds and coronavirus overlap in some symptoms, like the potential for a cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties, fatigue, headaches, a sore throat and congestion.
Symptoms more associated with coronavirus include fever, muscle and body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
Chicago health officials say it can be difficult to tell whether symptoms are related to seasonal allergies, a common cold or the coronavirus, but getting tested is one way to find out. That includes people who have been vaccinated for coronavirus, experts say.
Read more here.
All US States Now on Chicago's Travel Advisory, City Announces
Every U.S. state is now on Chicago's travel advisory, officials announced Wednesday, as Vermont became the final state to be added to the city's list.
The travel advisory was set for an update on Tuesday, but metrics were delayed due to the long Labor Day weekend.
States are added to the advisory's "orange list" when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the "yellow" list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.
Two states – New Hampshire and Connecticut – as well as the District of Columbia, saw their case rates fall below that threshold as of Wednesday, but they were not yet removed from the orange list on the city's advisory.
More Chicago Businesses Cited for Violating City's Indoor Mask Mandate: Officials
Several Chicago businesses were cited for violating the city's indoor mask mandate so far this month, officials said Tuesday.
According to Chicago Mayor Lori Lighftoot's office, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) issued one "notice to correct" and 10 citations to businesses between Sept. 2 and Sept. 5.
The city's new indoor mask mandate took effect on Aug. 20. A similar mandate is also in place for the entire state.
Read more here.
COVID by the Numbers: Coronavirus Metrics in Each of Illinois' 11 Health Care Regions
While some health care regions in Illinois are making progress in turning back the tide of increasing COVID cases, some areas are continuing to struggle, seeing stubbornly high positivity rates and increasing hospitalizations amid an upswing in cases.
'Do Not Ever Take Medicine For Animals:' Chicago's Top Doc Warns Against Use of Ivermectin to Treat COVID
Chicago's top doctor warned Tuesday against taking ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19, joining a chorus of health officials urging the public to avoid the parasite medicine typically used on horses and cattle.
"First and foremost, do not ever, please, take any medicine that is formulated for animals. It's dangerous, and it can really be a problem," said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Ivermectin is a deworming drug used in veterinary medicine, according to Arwady, and has been causing "all kinds of issues" in humans who decide to consume it, such as liver problems and nausea.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ivermectin overdose symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, allergic reactions, dizziness, problems with balance, seizures, coma and death.
Read more here.
Coronavirus by the Numbers: More Than 80 COVID Outbreaks Reported in Illinois Schools
Health officials in Illinois say that more than 80 coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at schools across the state, with several involving more than a dozen cases at educational institutions.
According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 81 outbreaks are active at Illinois schools as of this weekend, including 11 in Cook County alone.
At Glenbrook Elementary School, an outbreak involving at least a dozen cases has been reported, while another outbreak at St. Mary Catholic School, located in Mokena, involves between five and 10 cases.
At least eight outbreaks have also been reported in Will County, including one involving more than five cases at Reed-Custer Elementary School.
Read more here.
Variants Stick Around While Unvaccinated Get Infected, Local Doctors Say
Unvaccinated populations across the world could be responsible for the emergence of more variants of COVID-19, according to local doctors studying the virus.
The Mu and Delta variants have made a presence in the Chicago area although Dr. Egon Ozer of Northwestern Medicine says the Delta variant accounts for most of the cases today.
“Most of the MU cases were earlier in the summer and have since been declining almost everywhere except for Columbia,” said Egon. “With current conditions, Delta is much more infectious, much more easily transmitted and so it tends to outcompete every other variant out there.”
Read more here.
WATCH: Chicago's Top Doctor on Mu Variant: It's Not Even a 'Variant of Interest' in the U.S.
Chicago Travel Advisory Update May Be Delayed Due to Holiday: Top Doc
Chicago's travel advisory was set for another update on Tuesday, one week after nearly every U.S. state was added to the list and changes to the policy were announced just before the Labor Day holiday weekend.
But it remains unclear the update will be released Tuesday or Wednesday as metrics were delayed due to the long Labor Day holiday weekend.
"Because yesterday was a holiday, all of the sort of CDC national data was actually not updated yesterday so we will be updating our travel advisory and we'll put it out, you know, either later today or possibly tomorrow," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Tuesday.
Arwady noted that a "huge majority of the country still remains on the list" and "travel remains a high risk activity for people who are unvaccinated."
Read more here.
Brookfield Zoo Gives COVID Vaccine to 'High-Risk Animals'
Brookfield Zoo animals are now among the most recent recipients of the coronavirus vaccine, the Chicago Zoological Society revealed Tuesday.
According to the zoo, veterinarians have started administering a vaccine designed specifically for animals to "high-risk" species, or ones that are more susceptible to contracting the virus. The doses were donated by Michigan-based animal health company Zoetis, the zoological society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, said.
The animal version of the COVID vaccine has been authorized for experimental use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a case-by-case basis.
Mu Variant: A Look at Cases Reported in Illinois and What We Know So Far
The World Health Organization is monitoring a new coronavirus variant called "mu," which the agency says is now labeled a "variant of interest," and although the variant is not yet on the list being monitored by U.S. health officials, cases have been reported in Illinois.
According to outbreak.info, a Scripps Research project tracking COVID-19 genomic data such as lineages and mutations, as many as 21 cases have been identified in Illinois between the months of April and August, representing what is estimated to be less than 0.5% of cases in the state.
The group notes, however, that because its data is not a random sampling of mutations, it "does not indicate the true prevalence of the mutations but rather our best estimate now."
Federal health officials in the U.S. stressed last week that the "mu" variant is not an immediate threat to the United States.
Read more here.
Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?
With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.
Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?
According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.
Proof, Testing, Religious Exemptions: What to Know About COVID Vaccine Mandates
With both Illinois and Chicago mandating COVID vaccines for certain groups, what are the requirements and what do you need to know?