Mask Mandates, Booster Shots, ‘Frankenstein’ Variant – NBC Chicago

Masks are returning to at least one major US city as COVID begins to climb again, but what could that mean for Chicago?

Also, what is the Frankenstein variant and how did it get this name?

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

As Philadelphia reinstates mask mandates, here’s how their COVID measures compare to Chicago’s

While most cities and states are abandoning their COVID mitigations, the City of Philadelphia is moving in the opposite direction, reinstating its mask mandate as COVID cases have risen more than 50% in the past 10 days.

According to the latest data from Philadelphia officials, the city is seeing an average of 142 new COVID cases per day, an increase of 69% in the past 10 days alone.

“Cases are increasing faster than the health department deems safe,” officials said.

Learn more here.

How effective are COVID booster shots? Here’s what a Chicago doctor says

Anyone who contracted COVID-19 during the omicron variant outbreak may wonder if they still have natural immunity.

At Rush University Medical Center, researchers are tracking COVID antibody levels in hopes of answering the question. Doctors there have monitored the levels of around 1,100 people since the first COVID vaccines were released in December 2020.

“Researchers haven’t been able to find a magic number for protection,” said Rush immunologist Dr. James Moy.

Learn more here.

Why a Chicago expert says calling XE the COVID variant “Frankenstein” is “misleading”

A new hybrid variant of COVID known as XE spreading in the UK is making headlines as the so-called “Frankenstein” variant, but a Chicago expert says that moniker 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 omicron strain, and BA.2, known as name of “stealth omicron”.

Learn more here.

Chicago Health Department issues reminder on CDC COVID exposure protocols

The Chicago Health Department has reminded residents of what to do if they test positive for the 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 self-isolate for 5 days, then you must wear a mask in public for days 6-10,” the health department wrote on Saturday. Chicago public on Facebook.

Learn more here.

CDC guidelines for exposure to COVID: Here are the latest recommendations

As omicron’s BA.2 subvariant circulates across the United States, residents seek reminders of what to do in case they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 .

In recent 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 United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The BA.2 subvariant spreads about 75% faster than omicron’s previous version, BA.1, according to the latest update from the UK Health Security Agency. BA.2 has caused a spike in infections in the UK and Germany in recent weeks, although cases have started to fall again there.

Learn more here.

Illinois Mask Rules: Where You Must Wear One, Where It’s Recommended

Although COVID mitigation strategies have largely been rolled back in the United States, there are still places where masks are still recommended, if not required.

Masking warrants were eliminated earlier this year in most states as the number of cases linked to the omicron push began to drop. In Illinois, that mandate was lifted in late February, and cases continued to decline through most of March.

Cases have since started to rise, but officials at multiple levels of government say they are confident a “surge” will not occur due to the BA.2 subvariant, and said masking requirements should only not come back anytime soon.

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

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Chicago should be more protected than other parts of the United States against the new COVID variant: Arwady

Although Chicago is seeing a steady increase in COVID-19 cases amid emerging omicron variants, health officials don’t expect a major increase similar to other US cities in recent weeks.

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

Learn more here.

CDC recommends masks in just 19 US counties, 4 of which are in Illinois

Even though the vast majority of the United States has made progress in the fight against COVID-19, more than a dozen counties across the country are experiencing troubling measures, as data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. .

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

But of those 19 counties, four are in Illinois.

Learn more here.

Chicago travel advisory: COVID precautions advised in 4% of the United States. Here is where

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

The CDPH has issued recommendations following the latest update to the CDC’s county-by-county community levels map, which ranks 4.4% of counties in the United States and Puerto Risk as medium or high risk of COVID. .

Learn more here.

Masks recommended in 4 southern Illinois counties, according to CDC measurements

Despite advances in COVID measures across most of Illinois and no 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 elevated levels in four southern Illinois counties.

Learn more here.

NYC could reach a medium COIVD risk level within weeks, Arwady says. Here’s what would happen if Chicago followed

In Chicago and across the country, many cities are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, which the city’s top doctor says could lead to altered levels of transmissibility in some areas.

“New York City, for example, is seeing an increase,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday. “They’re also in low, but they expect them to reach that medium risk level, maybe in a couple of weeks or so.”

Learn more here.

COVID booster shots: When might others be eligible for the 4th dose? Top Doc Weighs

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

Chicago’s top doctor says the rest of the population may not see authorization for a fourth COVID vaccine until the fall.

Learn more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 10,000 new cases, 71 deaths last week as cases continue to climb

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

The previous week, the state reported 8,426 and 87 deaths. The previous week, 8,039 new cases and 109 deaths had been reported.

Learn more here.

Do at-home COVID tests, including free government ones, expire?

With home COVID testing now readily available, some might be saving for when they need to test, but how long can you actually wait?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, tests, including those sent to Americans free of charge by the government, may expire.

Learn more here.

Chicago’s COVID cases are rising, but the spread remains low according to the city’s Top Doc

The city of Chicago is seeing an uptick in COVID cases, but Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, told a news conference Thursday that there was one key takeaway that she wants the people of Chicago to pay attention.

“We continue to see cases, but overall the outbreak remains well under control,” Arwady said.

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

On Thursday, the city of Chicago recorded 304 new COVID cases, an increase of 28% over the past week.

Learn more here.

Airline mask mandate: which ones dropped the requirement and where?

In line with their country’s respective health and safety guidelines, several international airlines have changed their masking policies, allowing travelers to choose whether they wear one on certain flights.

In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration has extended its masking requirement on public transportation — which encompasses buses, trains, planes and transportation facilities — until April 18. It is unclear whether this term will be extended again as this deadline approaches.

So while flights within the United States will continue to require masks, whether or not you should wear one on an international flight depends, however.

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

Why Chicago’s top doctor isn’t worried about the emergence of the COVID XE variant yet

A new hybrid variant of COVID known as XE spreading in the UK is making a lot of headlines with concerns about its transmissibility, but Chicago’s top doctor says she doesn’t care instant.

“Mostly it’s been detected in the UK, several hundred cases, but nothing at this stage clearly shows major concern or spread,” said Dr Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Department of Public Health. of Chicago, 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 already been detected in the United States, no cases were reported in Chicago or Illinois on Monday.

Learn more here.

What is the XE COVID variant and where has it been detected so far?

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

Here’s a look at what we know so far.

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