Cook County health officials are set to address mitigations county-wide Thursday morning, just two days after Chicago announced a vaccine requirement for many indoor spaces in the new year.
Meanwhile, Illinois set another daily COVID case record for 2021, while crossing 2 million confirmed cases so far in the pandemic – a milestone that isn’t lost on health officials just days before the holiday.
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Watch Live: Cook County Officials to Discuss COVID Mitigations Thursday
Cook County officials are set to discuss COVID mitigation measures Thursday nearly one week after encouraging heightened measures across the county due to a rise in suspected omicron cases.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and leaders from Cook County Health and the Cook County Department of Public Health are expected to hold a press conference beginning at 11 a.m.
Their address comes just after Chicago announced plans to begin requiring proof of vaccination at several indoor spaces in the city, including bars, restaurants and gyms in January in an attempt to curb a surge in cases.
Watch live here and in the player above.
At-Home Kit Limits, Long Lines: What to Know If You Need a COVID Test Before the Holidays
COVID testing sites are in high demand as the holidays approach and cases surge in the Chicago area and across Illinois – and that trend is expected to continue even after the holidays.
Lines Wednesday and Thursday morning stretched outside many locations both in the city and suburbs and drive-up sites reported longer-than-normal wait times.
Amita Health said it is doing 3,000 tests per week, twice what it saw last summer, and Northwestern Medicine said it has seen a 23% increase in testing at its immediate care facilities.
Even at-home tests, such as ones found at pharmacies, are getting harder to come by, with limits being put on many purchases.
Read more here.
As COVID cases hit record levels for the year in the city and state, health officials are evaluating their options and strategies to curb new infections. NBC 5’s Lexi Sutter has more.
COVID Metrics: Illinois Hits 2 Million Coronavirus Cases, Sets New Daily Record for 2021
The state of Illinois crossed several thresholds on Wednesday, once again breaking the 2021 record for daily COVID cases and reporting its two millionth coronavirus case since the pandemic began.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state recorded 16,581 confirmed and probable cases of COVID in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day total so far this year.
The number is also the second-highest single-day COVID case number since the start of the pandemic, falling short of the 17,608 cases that were recorded on Nov. 5, 2020.
Read more here.
Hospitals Struggle to Maintain Normal Operations as COVID Hospitalizations, ICU Cases Rise
Hospitals across the state of Illinois are facing challenging times, trying to maintain normal operations while seeing a dramatic increase in the number of COVID patients.
“I think we’re balancing right now. I wouldn’t say we are thriving but we’re definitely surviving,” Wayne Laramie, VP and Chief Nursing Office for OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, said.
Laramie says that his hospital is shifting around resources to address COVID case surges in Rockford, among other locations.
Hospitalizations related to COVID are at their highest levels in nearly a year in Illinois, with 4,178 total patients currently hospitalized because of the virus.
Read more here.
Data Shows Fewer Than 10 ICU Beds Available for Hospital Patients in 4 Illinois Regions
Northern Illinois is one of four regions hit hardest by the latest COVID surge so far, with fewer than 10 ICU beds left for patients. ICU bed availability is near capacity in Regions 1, 3, 5, and 7, data shows.
“Our hospitals are really stretched to the maximum,” said Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator Dr. Susan Martell. “They’re all committed to providing high quality care to everyone who needs the care, but they are stretched to the maximum.”
Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois, said that it’s currently treating 935 COVID patients in Illinois and Wisconsin, nearly three times more than eight weeks ago.
Read more here.
Illinois’ Top Doctor Urges Residents to Enjoy Holiday Celebrations Safely as COVID Cases Rise
As coronavirus cases increase in Illinois, the state’s top doctor says that it is not a time to panic, but a time to double-down on prevention efforts to keep the virus from spreading during the holiday season.
During an interview with NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern on Wednesday, Ezike encouraged individuals to try their best to enjoy the holiday season, while at the same time taking common sense safety measures at family gatherings.
“(Just do) the same things that we want to do to keep ourselves safe,” she said. “I don’t want to underestimate it. We are in dire straits, but I don’t want people to be panicked. I just want them to do what we need to do, and that’s to get vaccinated, wear masks, do testing and wash our hands.
“The message has not changed for the two years we’ve been at this,” she added.
Read more here.
Infectious Disease Expert Discusses Safety Questions for Holiday Gatherings Amid COVID Surge
As the holidays approach and as COVID cases rise, there is a simple question on the minds of many Illinois residents: should the spread of the virus change the way Illinoisans celebrate the holidays?
The question comes as millions travel to visit loved ones this holiday season, and with the omicron variant spreading rapidly, and with case numbers reaching new heights, residents are seeking answers about the best way to safely celebrate the holiday season.
Dr. Sajal Tanna, an infectious diseases specialist at Northwestern University, was asked by NBC 5 what her thoughts were on holiday celebrations, and she says that her advice is changing by the day because of evolving information about the state of the pandemic.
Read what she said here.
What Should You Do If You Test Positive for COVID or Were Exposed to Someone Who Has?
What should you do if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for coronavirus?
It’s a question many are asking as COVID cases surge in Illinois and across the U.S. leading up to the holidays and some questions how long they should quarantine, if at all and how long they might be contagious.
How to Add Your COVID Vaccine Card to Apple Wallet Before Chicago’s Requirement Starts
Starting in 2022, Chicagoans will have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to get into indoor public places, and Apple has an easy way to access the record on the iPhone.
Beginning Jan. 3, anyone age 5 and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination to dine inside or visit gyms or entertainment venues where food and drinks are being served, joining other big cities like New York and Los Angeles in adding the requirement.
Apple’s new iOS 15.1 operating system allows users to add “verifiable” COVID vaccination information in the Wallet app, making it easier to provide proof of vaccination as opposed to carrying a physical card.
Here’s Where Vaccine Proof Will Be Required in Chicago Next Year
Beginning Jan. 3, Chicago will require proof of vaccination for many indoor public spaces as the city works to combat what officials are calling “the biggest COVID surge that we have seen since before vaccines were available.”
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.
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?
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.
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.