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  • 30 Aug 2021 6:17 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Over three-quarters of Illinois counties at 'warning' level for COVID-19 (Health News Illinois 8.30.2021)

    More than three-quarters of Illinois’ 102 counties in the “warning” level for increased COVID-19 activity fell slightly last week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

    The 78 counties at the “warning” level are up from 64 counties the prior week.

    The department also announced Friday that nearly 78 percent of Illinois adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, 61 percent of Illinois adults are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

    About 76.2 percent of residents 12 and older have had at least one shot, and 59.1 percent are fully vaccinated.

    Illinois vaccinators have administered 13,914,213 doses of vaccine. The seven-day average of doses administered is 24,056.

    There were 25,636 new COVID-19 cases reported last week, a 3.9 percent increase from the prior week. There were 174 more deaths reported last week, a 38.1 percent increase from the prior week.

    The new cases bring the state’s total to 1,508,005 cases, while the death toll is 23,889.

    The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests is 5.2 percent. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 5.7 percent.

    As of Thursday, 2,240 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, up 240 from the prior week. Of those patients in the hospital on Thursday, 500 were in the ICU, up 32 from the prior week, and 253 patients were on ventilators, up 19.

    IDPH reported 3,482 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, also known as the delta variant, as of Friday. Additionally, the department has started to report three delta sub-variants, AY.1, AY.2, and AY.3.

    The department reported:

    ·    Two cases of AY.1.

    ·    22 cases of AY. 2.

    ·    800 cases of AY.3.

    ·    7,059 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the alpha variant, which was discovered in England in November.

    ·    112 cases of the B.1.351 variant, also known as the beta variant, which was discovered in South Africa in October.

    ·    2,677 cases of the P.1. variant, also known as the gamma variant, which was discovered among travelers from Brazil after arriving in Japan in January.


  • 27 Aug 2021 4:42 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    by Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH  

    Over the last week, the topic of COVID-19 booster shots -- a third dose of mRNA vaccine for healthy Americans -- has been thrust into the spotlight. The surgeon general, CDC director, Anthony Fauci, MD, and President Biden have announced that they wish for boosters to be available by late September for healthy adults who are 8 months out from their original two-dose series. While this will be contingent on an FDA evaluation to determine the "safety and effectiveness of the third dose," a clear path forward has already been set. And just like everything else throughout the course of the pandemic, the choice has been made with a dearth of data and an abundance of political pressure. (MedPage Today)

    Diminishing vaccine effectiveness supposedly makes the case for boosters. But there are two big questions here: First, what is current vaccine effectiveness? And second, what justifies boosters? Let's consider these in turn.

    What Is Vaccine Effectiveness Now?

    We have to be honest, many vaccine effectiveness studies are poorly done. All studies compare the rate of getting a breakthrough infection among vaccinated people against the rate of infection in unvaccinated people. But there are some issues with this approach. First, as time goes on, more unvaccinated people have had and recovered from COVID-19 (and these individuals may be less likely to go on to get a shot). This means that their risk of getting COVID-19 a second time is far less than the typical unvaccinated person who has never been sick. Even if vaccines "work" as well as before, this factor alone will result in the appearance of diminishing vaccine effectiveness. 

    Full article here

  • 27 Aug 2021 4:33 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    A study published in Pediatric Dentistry  May 2021) details an overall decline in emergency department visits for pediatric patients seeking nontraumatic dental care since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, although these visits from children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds increased. ( 8.27.2021)

    Researchers examined nontraumatic dental care visits to emergency departments in the U.S. among people 20 years old and younger between 2010 and 2017 using data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, the largest all-payer emergency department database in the U.S.

    Results of the study show that nontraumatic emergency department visits decreased from 103.1 to 89.3 per 10,000 visits between 2010 and 2017. However, emergency department visits for nontraumatic dental care by pediatric Medicaid patients increased from 51 percent to 65.3 percent from 2010 to 2017. The odds of these visits were higher among uninsured patients and Medicaid enrollees ages 15-20 years old, but were lower among patients who lived in wealthier ZIP codes.

    The study concluded that these emergency department visits for nontraumatic dental care by pediatric patients decreased over time following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but that emergency care continued to be utilized at higher rates for children of low socioeconomic status. 


  • 26 Aug 2021 4:57 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Is the current COVID-19 surge a "pandemic of the unvaccinated?" No, according to Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH, pediatrician and co-developer of the "The Conversation: Between Us, About Us" project to encourage more people of color to get vaccinated.

    "This is not a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Boyd said Wednesday at a virtual event sponsored by the Alliance for Health Policy. Instead, "what we really exposed during the vaccination distribution effort is just how unequal the United States is" when it comes to getting access to COVID-19 vaccines. She presented data from the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that vaccine distribution was worse in Southern states, which also are where more Black and Latinx people live (the conversation is a joint project of the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Black Coalition Against COVID).

    Full article here


  • 25 Aug 2021 11:07 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    A top official at the World Health Organization said misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines has gotten worse in recent weeks. Meanwhile, hospitals navigate vaccine hesitancy and attempt to halt the spread of incorrect medical information, according to an Aug. 24 CNBC report.

    (Becker's Health IT 8.25.2021)

    Six things to know:

      1. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, declared COVID-19 misinformation a "serious public health threat" in July. Many public health leaders blame conspiracy theorists for enforcing so much distrust in the vaccines.

      2. Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, infectious disease epidemiologist and technical lead on COVID-19 at the WHO, said Aug. 23 that misinformation has gotten worse in the last four weeks. "The amount of misinformation that is out there seems to be getting worse, and I think that's really confusing for the general public," she said

      3. A small number of medical professionals have enforced some vaccine misinformation on social media outlets, such as TikTok and Doximity.

      4. Doximity is a social media platform used by 80 percent of U.S. physicians and has 1.8 million users. CNBC reported that the platform is riddled with misinformation, though Doximity's CEO, Jeff Tangney, told CNBC that less than 0.1 percent of its members have posted medical misinformation. The CEO did say there was an uptick in comments that had to be removed because they violated community guidelines.

      5. The Federation of State Medical Boards warned July 29 that physicians and other healthcare professionals could be at risk of losing their medical licenses if they spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on social media, online and in the media.

      6. Several hospital employees have gone viral over TikToks they have posted spreading inaccurate medical data. A surgical technologist at Marietta, Ga.-based Wellstar Healthcare System is "no longer employed" with the health system after comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust, WSB-TV reported Aug. 22.


  • 24 Aug 2021 1:25 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov JB Pritzker took action last Friday(8.20.2021) on over two dozen healthcare-related bills. (Health News Illinois (8.24.2021)

    Among the plans signed into law include:

    ·    Requiring requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to establish anaphylaxis policies and procedures for school districts and daycare settings.

    ·    Requiring public high schools and institutions of higher education to add contact information for suicide prevention on school IDs.

    ·    Allowing, effective Jan. 1, 2022, allows for the discretionary early release of those medically incapacitated or terminally ill and serving time in an Illinois Department of Corrections facility.

    ·    Expanding the maximum number of birth center alternative healthcare models in Illinois to no more than 17.

    ·    Requiring that a written aftercare plan be provided to patients upon discharge from a Department of Human Service’s facility.

    ·    Requiring group health plans to cover colonoscopies that are determined to be medically necessary based on an initial screening.

    ·    Allowing nurses, physicians assistants and advanced practice nurses with active licenses to apply to serve as volunteer EMTs in rural communities.

    ·    Allowing temporary disability parking decals for expecting mothers in their third trimester.

    ·    Removing a provision that required the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to post the contracted claims report required by HealthChoice Illinois on its website every three months.

    ·    Establishing new caps on the total incentive for wellness coverage and new mandates for certified application counselors.

    ·    Adding e-cigarettes and other vapor devices as one of the educational areas in the state’s Comprehensive Health Education Program.

    ·    Adding one member representing local health departments, who is a non-voting member, to the Long-Term Care Facility Advisory Board, and making several changes to IDPH’s annual review and report concerning the complaint process.

    ·    Allowing individuals to bring civil actions against those who make false 911 calls.

    ·    Increasing the membership of the State Board of Pharmacy to 11 and modifying membership requirements.

    ·    Requiring IDPH to collect additional health and social determinants of health data for its annual survey.

    ·    Requiring IDPH to ensure medical examiner offices are included as part of medical facilities for the purposes of complying with and implementing associated sections of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

    ·    Requiring that any opioid prescription for a substance classified in Schedule II, III, IV or V of the Illinois Controlled Substance Act be sent electronically, in accordance with requirements of the Prescription Monitoring Program.

    ·    Expanding healthcare worker background checks to include Department of Corrections employees or third-party vendors.

    ·    Requiring hospitals to offer information on charity care options available to uninsured patients, regardless of their immigration status or residency.

    ·    Requiring HFS to designate one or more entities to be certified for telementoring services.

    ·    Allowing the issuance of healthcare worker decals by IDPH, with a portion of the revenue deposited into an Illinois Health Care Workers Benefit Fund.

    ·    Making birthing centers a permanent, licensed option for birth delivery.

    ·    Altering the Prescription Monitoring Program's alert system to be consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

    ·    Directing the University of Illinois Hospital to adopt policies to protect healthcare workers and patients from hazardous surgical smoke plume and to ensure the elimination of surgical smoke.

    ·    Requiring HFS to apply for all available federal funding to promote inclusion and integration for persons with disabilities.


  • 23 Aug 2021 4:52 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Many children's hospitals in the South and Midwest have reported an uptick in pediatric cases over the past six weeks as the delta variant rapidly spread among unvaccinated people. Facilities in these regions are preparing for a potential spike in cases linked to school reopenings by hiring more nurses, updating discharge protocols and improving room cleaning efficiency, among other efforts. 

    COVID-19 hospitalizations among children are at the highest level since HHS started tracking them last year, and some children's hospitals are preparing for surges to worsen as schools reopen, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 22.

    Children's Hospital New Orleans has had up to 20 kids hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past three weeks, about half of whom didn't have underlying conditions, according to the hospital's Physician-in-Chief Mark Kline, MD. Last year, the hospital never saw more than seven pediatric hospitalizations at a time, and most involved kids with underlying health issues, Dr. Kline said. 

    In preparation for a school-related surge, the hospital has hired about 150 new nurses to start over the next few weeks, converted more hospital beds to intensive care unit beds and expanded its emergency department to hold more patients who can't immediately be admitted, Dr. Kline said.

    Full article here

  • 20 Aug 2021 1:31 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, unveiled new legislation this week to educate healthcare providers on evidence-based youth suicide prevention initiatives. 

    From 2007 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide rates among young Americans increased 56 percent.  

    The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act (Download HB 5035) would invest in educating health care providers in evidence-based youth suicide prevention initiatives 

    Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24, and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to accelerate these tragic trends. From 2007 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that suicide rates among young Americans increased 56 percent.  

    Health care providers play a critical role in identifying young people who might be at risk for self-harm or suicide. However, many health care professionals do not receive the training and resources they need to identify and respond to warning signs for suicide among their patients. The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would address this by providing evidence-based training on youth suicide prevention to current and future health care professionals.  Additionally, the bill creates a centralized database for that at-risk youth and their family members, medical and nursing schools, and health care professionals can turn to for best practices in lethal means safety and suicide prevention. 

    In a new video, Underwood shares the story of Bill and Patti Hartmann from McHenry, IL who lost their son in 2008 to suicide. 

    Click here to watch the video.  

    “Since the start of the pandemic, I have met with students and families across the 14th District of Illinois, and I’ve heard so many tragic stories of young people struggling with new or worsening mental health challenges—even suicidal thoughts. And no matter who I’m talking to—whether it’s a farmer, parent, or a teacher —they have all told me about the need for action to keep our kids safe. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act,” said Rep. Underwood. “My legislation will expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention initiatives in communities like ours so that we can save lives and prevent these tragedies.” 


  • 19 Aug 2021 7:50 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Climate Change Report- The United Nations this month released a major climate change report, the first of its kind in eight years. The report outlines what scientists know about global warming and informs policy makers how to slow the planet’s rising temperatures. All of the world’s 195 countries participated in the report’s development, with hundreds of scientists assessing studies from around the world.

    The report’s main conclusions — that humans are causing climate change, that temperatures will rise if we don’t cut emissions, and that weather is getting more extreme — didn’t surprise community health specialist Elena Grossman, MPH. Grossman is principal investigator at BRACE-Illinois, a CDC-funded project based at the University of Illinois Chicago that since 2012 has guided the state’s public health system in responding to climate change.

    Full article here>

    Download Regional Fact Sheet here> 

    Download Slides here>


  • 18 Aug 2021 8:51 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday (8.16.2021) signed into law a legislative package aimed at addressing the cost of prescription drugs. 

    One law establishes a prescription drug repository program, which will allow unexpired and unopened prescription and over-the-counter medications to be returned to pharmacies and reused for eligible populations.

    "(The program) opens up another avenue for Illinois healthcare to be able to help those who are underinsured or unemployed and not able to afford their medication,” Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, said in a statement.

    Pritzker also signed a proposal that requires pharmacies to provide customers with the retail price of a prescription drug, in writing and electronically, prior to purchase and make it clear if a customer's cost-sharing price for a prescription exceeds the current pharmacy retail price.

    "(The bill) establishes truth and transparency for the pharmaceutical industry," said Senate sponsor Scott M. Bennett, D-Champaign.

    Both laws take effect Jan. 1, 2022.


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