Illinois health leaders again urged caution Friday ahead of the holidays as the state’s COVID-19 metrics continue to rise. [Health News Illinois]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a mask in 43 Illinois counties, up 14 from a week ago, and that those at high risk of severe illness from the virus take precautions in 43 counties, down two from a week ago.
“As we prepare for holiday gatherings with our loved ones, I want to remind Illinoisians that these elevated COVID-19 community levels, along with rising flu levels, are leading to a surge of respiratory infections, increased hospitalizations and limited hospital beds,” Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement.
As of Thursday, 1,712 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, up eight from Wednesday and up 130 from the prior week.
The seven-day average for new cases on Friday was 3,333, up 275 from the prior week. The seven-day average for daily deaths was 12, up four from the prior week. So far, there have been a total of 3,930,135 cases, including 35,632 deaths.
The seven-day rolling average case rate per 100,000 people is 26.2, up 2.2 from the prior week.
Of Illinois’ total population, more than 78 percent have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and more than 71 percent have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. Of eligible Illinoisans, more than 17 percent have received the bivalent booster dose.
The Chicago Department of Public Health said more than 473,000 booster doses were administered to Chicagoans as of Dec. 14. About 17.6 percent of eligible Chicagoans have received the updated booster.
CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady reiterated Friday she expects the city to follow the trend of New York and Los Angeles and reach “high” COVID-19 activity in the coming weeks.
“With people gathering for the holidays, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a further surge in cases, which is why we need people masking up, thinking about testing ahead of gathering and getting the new, updated booster vaccine," she said.
BQ.1.1 remains the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to estimates from the CDC.
Variant proportions were at the end of last week were:
· BQ.1.1: 39.5 percent, up 4.6 percentage points from the prior week.
· BQ.1: 28.8 percent, up 1.5 percentage points.
· BA.5: 11.7 percent, down 4.5 percentage points.
· BF.7: 6.6 percent, down 1.1 percentage point.
· XBB: 3.9 percent, up 0.8 percentage points.
· BN.1: 3.8 percent, up 0.1 percentage points.
Other COVID-19 lineages were circulating at less than 3 percent each.