New XBB.1.5, Back-to-school fuel issues due to post-holiday COVID surge – NBC Chicago


With the new version, recent large gatherings and the return to school after winter break, there are concerns about the possibility of a post-holiday surge of COVID.

While other parts of the United States have seen an increase in COVID cases, Illinois has seen its weekly number of cases, hospitalizations and weekly deaths decrease in recent days. From the Illinois Department of Public Health. Statewide, 26 counties have “high” community status as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The city of Chicago, along with its surrounding counties, falls into the “average” category, as does 42% of the state of Illinois. About 38% of Illinois is in a “low” state. The remaining 20% ​​belong to the “high” category.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arvadi is urging people to take precautions such as wearing masks, getting vaccinated and staying safe in crowded indoor spaces to prevent a spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations. if you are sick, go home.

“We were able to stay at a moderate level of COVID-19 during the holidays, which I’m very happy about, but we’re not in the clear,” Arvadi said.

With the arrival of new strains, including the highly infectious “recombinant” version XBB.1.5, rates may rise again.

“It is quite possible that we will reach a higher level soon,” Arvadi said.

COVID isn’t the only concern, especially as families prepare to send their children back to school after winter break.

Dr. Juanita Mora, an allergist and immunologist, said she sees all types of respiratory infections, including COVID, flu and RSV.

“I see whole families affected, so I treat a lot of people and a lot of symptoms,” she said.

In preparation for the return to school on Monday, Chicago Public Schools is sending a letter to parents asking students to get tested before school and strongly recommending, but not requiring, masks to be worn in buildings.

While flu cases are down in Illinois, both doctors are concerned there could be a post-holiday spike.

“Unfortunately, for a lot of people, the wake-up call comes when it hits close to home, and it’s someone in their family, and we don’t want it to get to that point,” Mora said.

“I’m over COVID as much as anyone in Chicago, but COVID isn’t over with us,” Arvadi added.

According to CDC guidelines, anyone who has contracted COVID is advised to stay home for the first five days and then wear a mask for 6 to 10 days.

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