Fueled by the fast-spreading BA.5 subvariant, COVID-19 infections continue to occur across Illinois, with some communities in the southern portion of the state especially hard hit.
As of Friday, dozens of Illinois counties were listed at "high" community level status, according to the latest metrics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which did improve from a week earlier.
With it looking like COVID won't go away anytime soon, what steps should you take if you test positive?
If you had COVID and followed the proper guidance, you'll need to take note as the current recommendations aren't the same as before.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday changed its quarantine and isolation guidance, explaining more tools, including vaccinations, are available to protect people from COVID-19.
Anyone who tests positive should isolate from others, regardless of vaccination status, according to the latest recommendations. If you feel ill and believe you have COVID, but have yet to receive your test results, isolating is recommended as well.
After testing positive, you should stay home for at least 5 days, with the first day of symptoms being day 0, and isolate from others during this period. As you'll likely be the most infectious, wearing a high-quality mask is advised at times when you need to be around others, according to health officials.
If after 5 days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day 5. Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11, according to the CDC.
You should wear a high-quality mask through day 10.
The changes were announced days after Chicago's top doctor teased the potential shift away from COVID quarantine requirements, while stressing isolation guidelines.
The CDC's reminder about potentially testing out of isolation also comes amid questions about whether such a move is required. Questions particularly surfaced after President Joe Biden tested negative following his infection and began to leave isolation before testing positive a second time just days later.
The BA.5 subvariant of omicron has shown an increased ability to get around the immunity built up in patients thanks to COVID vaccines and boosters, and the illness has also shown an increased ability to cause positive tests for longer stretches, even if patients don't get as sick with the new variants.