COVID Variant Update, Masking Guide, Symptoms – NBC Chicago

While BA.5 continues to be the dominant COVID variant in the US, two newer variants are still on the rise.

Signs of a possible shift come as masking guidelines for healthcare facilities across the US appear to be changing

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

COVID Variant Tracker Shows BA.4.6, BF.7 On The Rise While BA.5 Cases Slowly Decline

The BA.5 omicron subvariant still accounts for more than 4 in 5 COVID cases in the US, but two new subvariants have continued to gain ground in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday, the BA.5 omicron subvariant still accounts for 83.1% of COVID cases in the United States, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While this makes it by far the most dominant variant of the virus currently circulating in the United States, it also represents a continued decline in that dominance as two more omicron subvariants emerge.

Read more here.

As Top Doc explains, the CDC’s updated hospital masking guidelines may not be what you think

Are masks still compulsory in hospitals? dr Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Health, presents the latest CDC guidelines.

The news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their masking guidelines for healthcare facilities made the headlines this week, but how exactly has that changed?

Chicago’s top doctor said the answer is more complex than many may realize.

Read more here.

Signs of COVID vs. Flu: Chicago’s top doctor says just one way to tell the difference

With temperatures steadily falling and the start of flu season fast approaching, health experts are expecting both flu and COVID-19 cases to rise.

While the flu season hasn’t “started in any serious way” according to Chicago’s top doctor Allison Arwady, health experts are warning residents about the symptoms of both the flu and COVID-19, while encouraging vaccination for both.

Read more here.

Having trouble getting Moderna’s new COVID booster shot? Here’s why and when that might change

Following reports of shortages related to Moderna’s updated COVID-19 booster shot, additional doses have arrived at pharmacies across the country, and more are expected soon.

The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it had approved the release of 10 additional shipments, each reportedly containing millions of doses of Moderna’s bivalent booster. The CDC approved updated versions of the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots on September 1, and pharmacies and other vaccination centers began dispensing the new shots around Labor Day weekend.

Read more here.

Chicago’s top doctor is waiting to get the new COVID booster shot but says not everyone should

With COVID cases expected to pick up again in early fall, public health officials are generally encouraging those eligible to get the recently updated “bivalent” booster shot as soon as possible.

Containing half the original vaccine recipe and half the protection against the latest Omicron versions, the boosters are said to provide better protection than those previously administered. As the winter months approach, Dr. Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Allison Arwady advised residents not to wait when it comes to getting vaccinated and boosted.

Read more here.

Where to get updated COVID boosters, eligibility, possible side effects and more

During the vast majority of the pandemic, up until early September, COVID-19 vaccines targeted the original strain of coronavirus, even as entirely different mutants emerged. Vaccines have continued to show effective protection, even across different strains, and now experts are hoping the latest shots can go further and offer additional protection.

Known as “bivalent” vaccines, the updated doses contain half the original vaccine formulation and half the protection against the latest Omicron versions BA.4 and BA.5.

Read more here.

Chicago, Cook County Moving from Medium to Low COVID Community Level

Following improvements in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations, both Chicago and Cook County have shifted from “medium” to “low” status at the COVID community level for the first time in months, according to health officials.

As of Friday, all Chicago-area counties in Illinois are listed at community-level status of “low,” a significant improvement from weeks earlier, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 17,000 new cases, 62 deaths reported in the last week

Illinois health officials reported 17,373 new COVID-19 cases last week, along with 62 additional deaths, a decrease in cases from a week earlier, as three counties within the state tested at “high” community levels for COVID-19 stay.

In the previous week, Illinois reported 17,584 new cases and 74 deaths. The week before, 19,933 new cases and 64 deaths were reported.

More COVID data statistics from Illinois can be found here.

Chicago’s top doctor points to signs of shifting COVID variants heading into fall

Chicago’s top doctor pointed out what this week could be the start of a change in the COVID variants circulating in the US and Midwest.

“We’re starting to see a little change here,” said Dr. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady during a Facebook Live Tuesday, noting in particular changes in BA.2.75 and a new BF.7 variant.

Read more here.

Here are the COVID-19 variants being tracked by the CDC, including the new BF.7

A new COVID-19 variant, which is increasing in number while the BA.5 omicron subvariant begins to decline, is one of several variants currently being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it heads into the fall and winter while experts are on the lookout for a mutation that could cause another surge in the pandemic.

While the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been the dominant COVID strain in the United States for several months, there are at least four other subvariants gaining ground in recent weeks.

Read more here.

How soon after COVID illness can you get the new COVID vaccine boosters?

If you recently had COVID-19, when is the best time to get the new omicron-specific booster shot?

Federal officials say there are no restrictions on getting the booster if you have a recent COVID infection. Anyone who received a primary COVID vaccine is eligible two months after their last dose of either the original vaccines or previous booster shots.

But Chicago’s top doctor, who recently recovered from COVID on her own, said while there’s no need to wait, some people might consider postponing their last dose if they’ve recently been infected.

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