Counties Reach High Level, COVID Vaccines for Kids – NBC Chicago

Some Illinois counties have reached a high alert level under standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as rates continue to rise across the state.

Plus, there’s a new update on vaccines for children under the age of 5.

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

Pfizer Says 3 COVID Shots Protect Children Under 5

Three doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday. Pfizer plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week in a step toward letting the littlest kids get the shots.

The news comes after months of anxious waiting by parents desperate to vaccinate their babies, toddlers and preschoolers, especially as COVID-19 cases once again are rising. The 18 million tots under 5 are the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

Read more here.

8 Illinois Counties Move to High COVID Risk Level, 39 at Medium Level, IDPH Data Shows

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase statewide, eight Illinois counties were reported at high community level risk for virus transmission, with 39 at medium risk level as of Friday.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following eight Illinois counties were at high community level risk for COVID: Boone, Lee, Stephenson, Winnebago, Champaign, Ford, Peoria and Tazewell.

Read more here.

40K New Cases, 56 Deaths in Last Week as 8 Counties Move to High Risk Level

Illinois health officials reported 40,193 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 45 additional deaths. While cases have increased slightly, deaths rose by 11 in the last seven days.

The previous week, the state reported 40,026 new cases and 45 deaths. The week before that, the state reported 30,633 new cases and 46 deaths were reported.

In all, 3,249,534 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths bring the state to 33,761 confirmed COVID fatalities.

Read more here.

IDPH Endorses Federal Authorization of COVID Vaccine Booster Shot for Kids 5 to 11

The Illinois Department of Public Health voiced support Friday for federal health officials’ recommendation of COVID-19 booster shots for children ages 5-11 at least five months after their primary vaccination series.

IDPH issued an advisory to Illinois vaccine providers endorsing the booster dose from Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 5-11, after the emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week.

Read more here.

Chicago-Area Counties Approach ‘High Community Levels’ of COVID as Cases, Hospitalizations Rise

Every Illinois county within the NBC 5 viewing area is now at a “medium community level” of COVID-19 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, with several potentially jumping to the “high” level as soon as next week.

According to the latest data released by the CDC on Thursday, a total of eight Illinois counties are now at that “high community level” of COVID-19. That includes a cluster of counties along the Wisconsin border, with Boone, Stephenson and Winnebago counties all jumping into that category this week.

Read more here.

As Chicago-Area Counties Approach ‘High’ COVID Levels, Could Mask Mandates Return?

According to the newest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID cases and hospitalizations are threatening to push several Chicago-area counties, including Cook County, into the highest-level of COVID alert in coming weeks.

That data, released Thursday afternoon, indicates that multiple counties in the Chicago area could potentially soon reach a “high community level” of COVID-19, which would then prompt the CDC to recommend a wide variety of mitigation strategies to help stem the increases in metrics.

Even if certain counties hit that “high community level” threshold, it may not necessarily mean an automatic return to COVID mitigations, including a mask mandate.

Here’s what we know.

COVID Test Kit from USPS: How to Get Yours in the Mail

You can now sign up to receive 8 free, at-home rapid antigen COVID tests in the mail, the federal government recently announced.

In previous rounds of test distributions residents could only claim up to four at-home COVID test kits per household.

Test kits will be shipped for free to residences, according to the United States Postal Service. Those tests will come in two separate packages, with four test kits in each package, the USPS says.

Here’s how to sign up and get yours mailed to your home.

Illinois COVID Testing: Where to Find Free Rapid, PCR COVID Tests Near You

COVID cases and hospitalizations are continuing to climb in Illinois, with the state now averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day.

It’s the first time in more than three months Illinois has seen the daily rate that high.

The good news is, COVID testing across Chicago and at Illinois remains free at many sites. And, the federal government is now offering residents double the number of free COVID rapid antigen tests during its newest round of kit availability, according to an update by the United States Postal Service.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, or you believe you’ve been exposed, here’s where you can find free COVID testing near you in Chicago and Illinois, for adults and kids.

How Long Can You Test Positive for COVID Following Infection?

If you test positive for COVID, how long could that last?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people who contract COVID-19 can have detectable virus for up to three months, but that doesn’t mean they are contagious.

When it comes to testing, however, the PCR tests are more likely to continue picking up the virus following infection.

Read more here.

FDA Authorizes at-Home Test That Can Help Diagnose COVID, Influenza and RSV

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a first-of-its-kind at-home testing kit that will allow individuals to collect samples and have them tested for a variety of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza.

According to a press release issued Monday, the FDA gave authorization to Labcorp’s “Seasonal Respiratory Virus RT-PCR DTC” test.

Those tests, available without a prescription, can be used by individuals with symptoms of respiratory viral infection, according to the FDA.

The tests allow an individual to self-collect a nasal swab at home, similar to that of an at-home COVID-19 test. Instead of getting the results in the home, those samples can be sent to Labcorp for testing.

The tests can identify and differentiate between a variety of illnesses, including influenza A and B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19, according to the FDA.

When Are You Contagious With COVID and How Long Should You Quarantine?

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across Chicago and the city’s top doctor said the trend will likely continue in coming weeks, sparking questions from concerned residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city’s positivity rate has soared to nearly 5% in recent weeks, and she expects metrics to continue to rise in the coming days.

Read more here.

Low, Medium, High: What CDC’s Community Levels Mean and What’s Required in Each

With nearly every Chicago-area county having reached the “medium community level” for COVID-19 and one Chicago suburb reaching “high” transmission levels, per guidance set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what does that mean for you?

So what does that mean and what does it take to reach each level?

Here’s a look at the guidelines.

Tested Positive for COVID and Looking for Treatment Options? Here’s What to Know About Pfizer’s Antiviral Pill

As more test positive for the coronavirus across the Chicago area, many are turning to questions over treating the virus with the new antiviral COVID-19 pill.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill has been used in several recent high-profile cases, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

But as more doctors prescribe Pfizer’s powerful COVID pill, new questions are emerging about its performance, including why a small number of patients appear to relapse after taking the drug.

Here’s what we know so far.

COVID Incubation Period: How Long Should You Quarantine and When Are You Contagious?

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across Chicago and the city’s top doctor said the trend will likely continue in coming weeks, sparking questions from concerned residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city’s positivity rate has soared to nearly 5% in recent weeks, and she expects metrics to continue to rise in the coming days.

“In this wave…it’s likely that we’ll have even more cases before we see it turn around,” she said. “And the last thing we want to do is to have people really see the hospitalization numbers going up significantly.”

For those who contract COVID, there may be lingering questions. Here’s the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC COVID Guidelines 2022: Symptoms to Watch for, How Long to Quarantine and More

With new, more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading across the U.S. and nearly all of the Chicago area rising to a higher alert level, many are wondering what to do if they experience symptoms or test positive for the virus.

If you were exposed, when could symptoms start, how long are you contagious, how long should you quarantine for and when is the best time test?

Read more here.

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