Cook County health officials will look into remedial action across the county on Thursday morning, just two days after Chicago announced mandatory vaccinations for many indoor spaces in the New Year.
Meanwhile, Illinois has set another daily COVID case record for 2021, surpassing 2 million confirmed cases in the pandemic to date – a milestone that hit health officials just days before the holiday.
Here’s what you need to know about the Illinois coronavirus pandemic today:
Cook County, along with Chicago, is demanding proof of vaccine for bars, restaurants, and gyms next year
Suburban Cook County will join Chicago to require proof of vaccination for indoor public spaces such as bars, restaurants and gyms in the New Year, officials said Thursday.
The new slowdown, in line with Chicago’s mandate, begins at the same time as the city’s January 3rd.
“Omicron is in the suburbs of Cook County here, and it spreads incredibly quickly and easily, so CCDPH must take steps to contain the spread,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, CCDPH co-director and senior medical officer, in a statement. “We are concerned about how easily the Omicron variant can spread among people, especially in crowded indoor spaces. It is very important that we implement these measures to reduce the risk of transmission. ”
Details on the requirements here.
Watch Live: Cook County officials discuss COVID mitigation Thursday
Cook County officials will discuss COVID containment measures for nearly a week Thursday after encouraging tightened measures across the county amid a surge in suspected Omicron cases.
Cook County Chairman Toni Preckwinkle and executives from Cook County Health and the Cook County Department of Public Health are expected to host a press conference starting at 11 a.m.
Her address comes shortly after Chicago announced it would be asking for vaccination records in several interior locations around the city, including bars, restaurants and gyms, in January to help stem a surge in cases.
Watch it live here and in the player above.
Home Kit Limits, Long Lines: What To Know If You Need To Get A COVID Test Before The Holidays
COVID test sites are in high demand as the holidays approach and cases increase in the Chicago area and across Illinois – and this trend is expected to continue after the holidays.
Wednesday and Thursday morning queues stretched outside many locations in both the city and suburbs, and drive-on areas reported longer than normal waiting times.
Amita Health said it is doing 3,000 tests a week, double what it did last summer, and Northwestern Medicine said testing at its immediate care facilities was up 23%.
Tests for at home, such as those found in the pharmacy, are also becoming more and more difficult, and many purchases are limited.
Read more here.
As city and state COVID cases hit record levels for the year, health officials are evaluating their options and strategies to contain new infections. NBC 5’s Lexi Sutter has more to offer.
COVID metrics: Illinois hits 2 million coronavirus cases, setting a new daily record for 2021
The state of Illinois crossed multiple thresholds on Wednesday, breaking the 2021 record for daily COVID cases again, and reporting its two millionth coronavirus case since the pandemic began.
According to the Illinois Department of Health, the state had 16,581 confirmed and probable cases of COVID in the past 24 hours, the highest total in a day this year.
The number is also the second highest single-day COVID case count since the pandemic began, and is below the 17,608 cases recorded on November 5, 2020.
Read more here.
Hospitals are struggling to maintain normal operations as COVID hospital stays and ICU cases increase
Hospitals across the state of Illinois are facing difficult times and trying to maintain normal operations as the number of COVID patients increases dramatically.
“I think we’re balancing right now. I wouldn’t say we’re successful, but we definitely survive, ”said Wayne Laramie, VP and Chief Nursing Office, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.
Laramie says his hospital is shifting resources to cope with COVID cases in Rockford, among others.
Hospital admissions for COVID are at their highest level in Illinois in nearly a year, with a total of 4,178 patients being hospitalized for the virus currently.
Read more here.
Data shows that there are fewer than 10 ICU beds available for hospitalized patients in 4 regions of Illinois
Northern Illinois is one of four regions hardest hit by the recent COVID surge to date, with fewer than 10 beds in intensive care units for patients. The availability of beds in the intensive care unit is almost full in Regions 1, 3, 5 and 7To show data.
“Our hospitals are really working to the limit,” said Dr. Susan Martell, Winnebago Department of Health Director of Public Health. “They all strive to provide high quality care to those who need the care, but they are used to the maximum.”
Advocate Health Care, the largest healthcare system in Illinois, said it is currently treating 935 COVID patients in Illinois and Wisconsin, almost three times more than eight weeks ago.
Read more here.
Illinois top doctor urges residents to safely enjoy holidays as COVID cases rise
As coronavirus cases rise in Illinois, the state’s top doctor says it is not a time to panic, but a time to redouble 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 do their best to enjoy the holiday season while using common sense safety precautions at family gatherings.
“Just do the same things we want to do to protect ourselves,” she said. “I don’t want to underestimate it. We are in dire straits, but I don’t want people to panic. I just want them to do what we have to do, which is get vaccinated, wear masks, do tests, and wash our hands.
“The message hasn’t changed in the two years we’ve been with it,” she added.
Read more here.
Infectious Disease Expert Discusses Safety Issues For Holiday Meetings Amid COVID Wave
As the holidays approach and COVID cases rise, many Illinois residents ask a simple question: Should the spread of the virus change the way Illinois residents celebrate the holidays?
The question arises when millions visit loved ones this Christmas season, and with the Omicron variant spreading rapidly and falling numbers reaching new heights, residents are looking for answers on how to best celebrate the Christmas season safely.
Dr. Sajal Tanna, an infectious disease specialist at Northwestern University, was asked by NBC 5 what her opinion on the holiday celebrations was, and she says her advice is changing day by day due to the evolving information about the state of the pandemic.
Read what she said here.
What should you do if you’ve tested positive for COVID or been exposed to someone who has?
What should you do if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for the coronavirus?
This is the question many are asking as COVID cases rise in Illinois and the US before the holidays, and some questions about how long should they be quarantined, if at all, and how long they could be contagious.
Here is a look at the guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How to Add Your COVID Vaccine Card to Apple Wallet Before Chicago Requests Begin
Starting in 2022, Chicago residents will need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor public spaces, and Apple has an easy way to access the record on iPhone.
As of January 3, anyone aged 5 and over must provide proof of full vaccination in order to dine indoors or visit gyms or entertainment venues that serve food and drink.
Apple’s new iOS 15.1 operating system allows users to insert “verifiable” COVID vaccination information into the Wallet app, making it easier to prove vaccination instead of carrying a physical card.
That’s how it’s done.
Here’s where proof of vaccine is needed next year in Chicago
Starting January 3, Chicago will require proof of vaccination for many indoor public spaces as the city works to combat what officials have dubbed the “biggest spike in COVID we’ve seen since vaccines became available.”
Here are the places where proof of vaccination is required – and where not.
Swollen lymph nodes after COVID booster shot? That’s what experts say about it
Did you have a swollen lymph node in the arm where you received your COVID vaccine or booster?
You’re not alone.
Even if you may not have experienced it with your starting doses of the vaccine, there is still a chance you will see it after a booster dose.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine side effect actually occurs more often with booster vaccinations or additional doses than with starting doses of the COVID vaccines.
But the CDC said it wasn’t a side effect to worry about.
Booster Shots and Omicron: is Moderna or Pfizer better? Here are the dates so far
Both Moderna and Pfizer have released early data showing the effectiveness of their vaccines and booster doses as the new Omicron variety takes off and COVID cases rise in the US
But is one better than the other?
Here’s what we know so far.
Omicron Severity, Symptoms, Risk of Breakthrough Cases: What We Know So Far
Experts had said that more information on the Omicron variant is expected in the weeks following its discovery.
What do we know now, about a month since the new variant of COVID was identified in South Africa and two weeks since it was first recorded in the US?
Chicago’s top doctor said that while we are still learning about the variant and research continues, an early look at the latest data has revealed some insights so far.
Here’s a breakdown of what we know.
The Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on Tuesday gave a breakdown of which COVID-19 variant is currently leading the surge in the Midwest. While 99.9% of COVID cases are currently a Delta variant, based on studies from other countries, she predicted that the Omicron variant will soon spread rapidly.
CDC guidelines for COVID exposure: timeline, quarantine, contagion time
What should you do if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for the coronavirus? How long have you been contagious, what are the quarantine guidelines and when can you see people again?
Here’s a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on what to do if you’ve tested positive or think you’ve been exposed to someone who did.