State case numbers soar, new COVID variant – NBC Chicago < Illinois

A new COVID variant is now being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Illinois reports a spike in case numbers.

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

As 2 subvariants outperform BA.5, concerns about another new COVID strain, BN.1, are emerging

While the BA.5-COVID variant was the nation’s dominant strain for months, that is no longer the case.

Subvariants BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 have since taken over, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed the two account for about 44% of new COVID infections, NBC News reported. According to the latest data, BA.5 was responsible for about 30% of all cases.

However, they are not the only variants that have popped up lately.

Read more here.

Illinois has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past week as concerns about respiratory viruses grow ahead of Thanksgiving

Illinois health officials have reported 13,659 new COVID-19 cases since Nov. 11, along with 48 additional deaths in the past seven days.

Cases and deaths have increased slightly from the previous week, which saw 11,020 new COVID-19 cases and 38 deaths from the virus.

For the past seven days, one county in Illinois, Winnebago County, has had high levels of COVID-19 transmission. In addition, 20 other counties had an intermediate level of transmission.

Read more here.

1 Illinois County Rises to “High” COVID Alert Level, Per CDC Guidelines

A county in Illinois rose to a “high” COVID alert level this week, sparking new masking guidelines and marking a postponement after the state had no counties at such a level last week.

With a “high” alert level, masking is recommended for everyone in public indoor spaces.

More than a dozen other Illinois counties have been listed at a “moderate” level, meaning those at high risk of disease are encouraged to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Read more here.

RSV rises as flu and COVID cases rise. Should we wear masks?

Health experts in Chicago and across the country have been voicing concerns since October that an “explosion” of respiratory viruses — RSV, influenza and COVID — would occur this fall and winter as cases each continue to rise.

“My concern is that COVID is really increasing and the flu is really increasing, that it’s going to really continue to strain our hospital capacity,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Public Health Officer for the Chicago Department of Health.

Read more here.

Should local residents wear masks even when not required? Chicago’s top doctor gets involved

Amid a slow increase in COVID cases in Illinois and across the United States, Chicago’s top doctor says residents may want to wear masks indoors more often, especially with flu and RSV cases on the rise.

dr Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Allison Arwady took time out to answer questions about masking during her Facebook Live Tuesday and says she continues to wear masks indoors.

Read more here.

3 unusual COVID symptoms and what to look out for if you think you have them

As the COVID pandemic enters its third winter, many now know that not everyone has the same symptoms. But for some, the symptoms may seem particularly strange.

While many experience fevers, coughs, constipation, and more, there are some unexpected symptoms that can arise.

Read more here.

Are breakthrough cases reported with bivalent COVID booster? Top Doc says yes

Chicago’s top doctor said breakthrough COVID infections have been reported in people who received the new bivalent COVID booster, and there’s a reason for that.

“We’ve seen some breakthrough cases, as we always do… since the beginning of COVID,” said Dr. Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Allison Arwady on Tuesday, adding that “it’s definitely related to the newer strains.”

Arwady pointed to the changing dynamics of variant proportions in the Midwest and across the US, with the BA.5 Omicron subvariant quickly losing its hold as the dominant variety.

Read more here.

BA.5 may not be the dominant variant for much longer. Here’s why and what that means

The BA.5 omicron subvariant has been the dominant COVID variant in the US for months, but its reign may soon be over.

That’s because two descendants of the BA.5 strain could potentially overtake him.

This comes as new variants continue to emerge, including the BN.1, which has now been added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly tracker.

Read more here.

What you should know about quarantine, isolation and testing for COVID ahead of the holidays

With concerns about a rising pre-holiday ‘triple disease’ and several Chicago-area counties under heightened COVID alert levels, what should you know if you test positive for COVID or come into contact with someone who has it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued amendments to their COVID guidelines over the summer, changing recommendations for quarantine, social distancing and even testing.

Bivalent COVID boosters have since been given, but a surge in RSV and influenza coupled with ongoing COVID cases has worried some.

Here’s what you should know.

Moderna announces new data on the effectiveness of the bivalent COVID booster

Moderna announced Monday that its latest study data showed that its bivalent COVID boosters “elicited a superior neutralizing antibody response against Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants” compared to its original vaccine and boosters.

“We are pleased to see that our two bivalent booster vaccine candidates provide superior protection against Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants compared to our original booster, which is a given given that COVID-19 is a leading cause of hospitalizations and deaths remains, is encouraging. In addition, the superior response to Omicron persisted for at least three months after the mRNA 1273.214 booster,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

Bancel also noted that the data seemed to indicate that the bivalent shots showed protection against the new BQ.1.1 subvariant, which is currently growing in numbers in the US

“Our bivalent boosters also show neutralizing activity against BQ.1.1, an increasingly dominant new variant, in research testing, confirming that updated vaccines have the potential to offer protection as the virus continues to rapidly evolve to evade our immunity.” said Bancel.

Doctors urge vaccinations as respiratory viruses circulate ahead of holiday season

Health officials across the Chicago area are urging people to get vaccinated ahead of the colder weather, especially amid rising cases of RSV and the flu.

“This ‘triple disease’… as we now call it, involves three viruses,” explained Dr. Geraldine Luna, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Respiratory viruses such as the flu, RSV and COVID-19 are “spreading rapidly” throughout Illinois, the state Department of Health and Human Services said earlier this week.

Read more here.

‘Triple pandemic’ feared as RSV and flu cases rise, Chicago-area COVID community levels rise

With winter approaching and Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, doctors are warning the US could potentially be facing what has been called a “triple pandemic” – a spike in three respiratory illnesses.

“When we say ‘triple disease,’ we mean we’re going to see a lot of RSV cases and a lot of influenza cases, and we expect to see a lot of COVID cases as well,” said Dr. KevinSmith.

Read more here.

Cook County, Chicago, now under “medium” COVID alert. what you should know

Chicago and Cook County are among several locations in the Chicago area that are now under an elevated COVID alert level.

“We are already seeing a surge in influenza in the US South, COVID is picking up again as we move back to moderate COVID levels locally, and Chicago Children’s Hospitals are already full of children severely ill with other respiratory viruses such as RSV are”, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “Families will be traveling and gathering indoors for the holidays and I am concerned about the increased spread of COVID-19 and flu and particularly the potential for serious consequences for those who are unvaccinated or not up to date.”

Read more here.

6 Chicago-area counties under elevated COVID alert level. Here’s what that means

Six Chicago-area counties are now under an elevated COVID alert level, with new mask recommendations taking effect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will and Grundy counties are all now under the “intermediate community level” for COVID.

Here’s what that means for you.

IDPH warns of ‘rapid spread’ of respiratory virus ahead of holiday

Illinois health officials are warning that respiratory viruses are “spreading rapidly” in the run-up to the holiday, with RSV, flu and COVID-19 continuing to spread as the days get shorter and temperatures cool.

“The US is currently facing its highest flu hospitalization rate in a decade, with young children and the elderly being most at risk,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra in a statement. “Vaccines remain our best tools to prevent the worst of COVID. 19 and flu. I strongly encourage anyone who has not received full protection against COVID-19 and the flu to get vaccinated immediately. Both the new bivalent COVID-19 booster and the influenza vaccine target the current strains of these viruses.”

Read more here.

COVID-19 cases fall in Illinois as over 1.5 million bivalent booster shots have been administered nationwide

Illinois health officials reported 11,020 new COVID-19 cases since Nov. 4, along with 38 additional deaths in the past six days.

Cases and deaths are down significantly in the previous week, with 14,225 new COVID-19 cases and 54 additional deaths from the virus.

Read more here.