coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: CDC Exposure Guidelines, Masking Recommendations

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

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As cases begin a slight increase in Chicago and Illinois, what should you do if you are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

Plus, where do you need to wear a mask in Illinois still and which counties are they recommended in?

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

Why Chicago Expert Says Calling XE the 'Frankenstein' COVID Variant is 'Misleading'

A new hybrid COVID variant known as XE spreading in the United Kingdom is making headlines as a so-called "Frankenstein" variant, but according to one Chicago expert, that nickname is misleading.

The XE variant is a recombinant, meaning it has parts of two different variants rearranged into a new virus, which in this case are BA.1, the original strain of omicron, and BA.2, known as "stealth omicron."

Read more here.

Chicago Health Department Issues Reminder on CDC COVID Exposure Protocols

Chicago's health department issued a reminder to residents on what they should do if they test positive for coronavirus, with cases continuing to rise as the BA.2 omicron subvariant takes hold.

"REMINDER: Regardless of vax status, if you test positive for COVID, you must isolate for 5 days, then you must wear a mask in public for days 6-10," the Chicago Department of Public Health wrote on Facebook Saturday.

Read more here.

CDC Guidelines for COVID Exposure: Here are the Latest Recommendations

As the BA.2 subvariant of omicron circulates across the U.S., residents are seeking out reminders of what to do in the event that they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Within the past few weeks, BA.2 has driven upward trends in cases, including in the Midwest. In late March, the subvariant became the dominant version of COVID in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The BA.2 subvariant spreads about 75% faster than the earlier version of omicron, BA.1, according to the latest update from the U.K. Health Security Agency. BA.2 has caused a spike in infections in the U.K. and Germany in recent weeks, though cases started to decline again there.

Read more here.

Illinois Mask Rules: Where You Need to Wear One, Where It's Recommended to Do So

While COVID mitigation strategies have largely been rolled back across the United States, there are still some places where masks are still recommended, or even required.

Masking mandates were eliminated early in the year in most states as case numbers related to the omicron surge began to plummet. In Illinois, that mandate was removed at the end of February, and cases continued to drop through most of March.

Cases have since begun to increase, but officials at multiple levels of government say that they are confident that a “surge” is not forthcoming due to the BA.2 subvariant, and have said that masking requirements are not likely to return any time soon.

Even still, there are still situations in which residents are required to wear facial coverings, and there are four Illinois counties where masks are recommended in adherence to standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is what you need to know.

Why Chicago Should Be More Protected Than Other Parts of U.S. Against New COVID Variant: Arwady

Though Chicago is seeing a steady increase in COVID-19 cases amid emerging omicron variants, health officials don't expect a major surge similar to other U.S. cities over the past weeks.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday that because the city and the Midwest saw bigger spikes in coronavirus cases with the original omicron variant, BA.1, than other cities, more Chicagoans are protected against new strains.

Read more here.

CDC Recommends Masks in Only 19 US Counties, 4 of Them Are in Illinois

Even as the vast majority of the U.S. has made progress in the fight against COVID-19, more than a dozen counties across the country are experiencing troubling metrics, as shown by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Of the nation's 3,006 counties, 123 are listed in the medium community level category, as defined by CDC, and 19 are said to have high community levels, meaning masks are recommended.

But of those 19 counties, four are in Illinois.

Read more here.

Chicago Travel Advisory: COVID Precautions Advised in 4% of US. Here's Where

The Chicago Department of Public Health is urging residents who travel to areas of the country deemed medium or high COVID-19 risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow precautions, according to a travel advisory update Friday.

CDPH issued recommendations following the latest update to the CDC's county-by-county community levels map, which categorizes 4.4% of counties in the U.S. and Puerto Risk as medium or high risk for COVID.

Read more here.

Masks Recommended in 4 Southern Illinois Counties, According to CDC Metrics

Despite progress in COVID metrics across most of Illinois and the absence of a face covering requirement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending masks in some Illinois counties.

The CDC updated its county-by-county community levels map Thursday, showing high levels in four counties across southern Illinois.

Read more here.

NYC Could Hit Medium COIVD Risk Level in Weeks, Arwady Says. Here's What Would Happen If Chicago Follows

In Chicago and across the country, many cities are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks, which the city's top doctor said could lead to a change in transmissibility levels in some areas.

"New York City, for example, is seeing an increase," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday. "They are also in low, but they are expecting that they may get to that medium risk level possibly in a couple of weeks or so."

Read more here.

COVID Booster Shots: When Could More Be Eligible for 4th Dose? Top Doc Weighs In

Millions of Americans can now receive a second COVID-19 booster shot, but not everyone is eligible. A new decision on eligibility could be coming soon, however.

Chicago's top doctor said the rest of the population may not see authorization for a fourth COVID shot until the fall.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 10K New Cases, 71 Deaths in Last Week as Cases Continue to Climb

Illinois health officials reported 10,786 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 71 additional deaths, marking a small increase in cases following weeks of decline, but a continued decline in deaths.

The previous week, 8,426 the state reported and 87 deaths. The week before that, 8,039 new cases and 109 deaths were reported.

Read more here.

Do At-Home COVID Tests, Including Free Ones From the Government, Expire?

With at-home COVID tests now readily available, some might be saving there's for when they have a need to test, but how long can you actually wait?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the tests, including ones sent to Americans for free by the government, can expire.

Read more here.

Chicago COVID Cases Rising, but Spread Remains Low According to City's Top Doc

The city of Chicago is seeing a slight rise in COVID cases, but Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a press conference on Thursday that there's a key takeaway that she wants Chicagoans to pay attention to.

“We continue to see cases, but overall the outbreak remains in good control,” Arwady announced.

The community spread currently remains low, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

As of Thursday, the city of Chicago saw 304 new COVID cases, which is up 28% in the last week.

Read more here.

Airline Mask Mandate: Which Ones Have Dropped the Requirement and Where?

Following their country's respective health and safety guidelines, several international airlines have made changes to their masking policies, letting travelers choose whether they wear one on certain flights.

In the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration extended its masking requirement on public transportation — which encompasses buses, trains, airplanes and transportation facilities — through April 18. It remains unclear if that mandate will extended once again as that deadline approaches.

So while flights in the U.S. will continue requiring masks, whether or not you'll need to wear one on an international flight, however, depends.

Here is a list of airlines that have altered their mask mandates so far.

Why Chicago's Top Doctor Isn't Worried About Emerging COVID Variant XE Just Yet

A new hybrid COVID variant known as XE spreading in the United Kingdom is making plenty of headlines with concerns about its transmissibility, but Chicago's top doctor said she's not concerned about it just yet.

"Mostly, it's been detected in the UK, several hundred cases, but nothing at this point that is clearly showing major concern or spread," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. "And so it hasn't even been labeled at this point, an official variant of interest."

Arwady noted that while the recombinant variant has been detected in the U.S. already, no cases have been reported in Chicago or Illinois as of Monday.

Read more here.

What is the XE COVID Variant and Where Has it Been Detected So Far?

A new hybrid COVID variant known as XE spreading in the United Kingdom is making headlines, but what exactly is it and why are health officials taking note?

Here's a look at what we know so far.

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