Illinois Coronavirus Updates: ‘High’ COVID Alert Level Expected, Masking Guidance – NBC Chicago

Chicago could soon reach the highest COVID alert level under standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But that won’t necessarily trigger the return of mask mandates.

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

What Will Trigger the Return of Mask Mandates in Chicago?

Chicago could soon reach a high alert level for COVID, but that doesn’t necessarily mean mask mandates will return right away, the city’s top doctor said Tuesday.

While masks are “strongly recommended” across the city with cases spiking, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she’s watching a different metric to determine if mandates will return.

Read more here.

‘Direction We’re Heading’: Chicago Could Soon Reach High COVID Level: Top Doc

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the United States, Chicago’s top doctor says she expects the city could soon reach a “high” community level.

“Unfortunately that is the direction that we’re heading,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live Tuesday, calling it a “point of concern.”

Read more here.

Illinois COVID Testing: Where to Find Free Rapid, PCR COVID Tests Near You

COVID cases and hospitalizations are continuing to climb in Illinois, with the state now averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day.

It’s the first time in more than three months Illinois has seen the daily rate that high.

The good news is, COVID testing across Chicago and at Illinois remains free at many sites. And, the federal government is now offering residents double the number of free COVID rapid antigen tests during its newest round of kit availability, according to an update by the United States Postal Service.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, or you believe you’ve been exposed, here’s where you can find free COVID testing near you in Chicago and Illinois, for adults and kids.

Government Offers Up to 8 Free COVID Tests Per Household as Cases Rise Nationwide

The federal government is now offering residents double the number of free COVID rapid antigen tests during its newest round of kit availability, according to an update by the United States Postal Service.

Whereas in previous rounds of test distributions residents could only claim up to four per household, residents can now request up to eight of the tests, which will be shipped for free to their residences.

According to the government, each order may contain eight rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. Those tests will come in two separate packages, with four test kits in each package, according to the USPS website.

How Long Can You Test Positive for COVID Following Infection?

If you test positive for COVID, how long could that last?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people who contract COVID-19 can have detectable virus for up to three months, but that doesn’t mean they are contagious.

When it comes to testing, however, the PCR tests are more likely to continue picking up the virus following infection.

Read more here.

Illinois COVID Stats: State Averaging More Than 6K Cases Per Day as Hospitalizations Rise

For the first time in more than three months, Illinois is averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, with hospitalizations also beginning to climb across the state.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state is averaging 6,065 new cases of COVID per day over the last week. That marks the first time the state has eclipsed the 6,000-case barrier since Feb. 9, when Illinois was still descending from the heights of its omicron-driven surge over the winter.

In the last seven days, the state’s daily average of new COVID cases has gone up by 17.7%, according to IDPH officials. In the last month, cases have increased by 174%.

On Monday, Illinois officials reported 5,447 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with zero new fatalities reported.

FDA Authorizes at-Home Test That Can Help Diagnose COVID, Influenza and RSV

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a first-of-its-kind at-home testing kit that will allow individuals to collect samples and have them tested for a variety of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza.

According to a press release issued Monday, the FDA gave authorization to Labcorp’s “Seasonal Respiratory Virus RT-PCR DTC” test.

Those tests, available without a prescription, can be used by individuals with symptoms of respiratory viral infection, according to the FDA.

The tests allow an individual to self-collect a nasal swab at home, similar to that of an at-home COVID-19 test. Instead of getting the results in the home, those samples can be sent to Labcorp for testing.

The tests can identify and differentiate between a variety of illnesses, including influenza A and B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19, according to the FDA.

When Are You Contagious With COVID and How Long Should You Quarantine?

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across Chicago and the city’s top doctor said the trend will likely continue in coming weeks, sparking questions from concerned residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city’s positivity rate has soared to nearly 5% in recent weeks, and she expects metrics to continue to rise in the coming days.

Read more here.

Low, Medium, High: What CDC’s Community Levels Mean and What’s Required in Each

With nearly every Chicago-area county having reached the “medium community level” for COVID-19 and one Chicago suburb reaching “high” transmission levels, per guidance set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what does that mean for you?

So what does that mean and what does it take to reach each level?

Tested Positive for COVID and Looking for Treatment Options? Here’s What to Know About Pfizer’s Antiviral Pill

As more test positive for the coronavirus across the Chicago area, many are turning to questions over treating the virus with the new antiviral COVID-19 pill.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill has been used in several recent high-profile cases, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

But as more doctors prescribe Pfizer’s powerful COVID pill, new questions are emerging about its performance, including why a small number of patients appear to relapse after taking the drug.

COVID Incubation Period: How Long Should You Quarantine and When Are You Contagious?

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across Chicago and the city’s top doctor said the trend will likely continue in coming weeks, sparking questions from concerned residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city’s positivity rate has soared to nearly 5% in recent weeks, and she expects metrics to continue to rise in the coming days.

“In this wave…it’s likely that we’ll have even more cases before we see it turn around,” she said. “And the last thing we want to do is to have people really see the hospitalization numbers going up significantly.”

For those who contract COVID, there may be lingering questions. Here’s the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC COVID Guidelines 2022: Symptoms to Watch for, How Long to Quarantine and More

With new, more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading across the U.S. and nearly all of the Chicago area rising to a higher alert level, many are wondering what to do if they experience symptoms or test positive for the virus.

If you were exposed, when could symptoms start, how long are you contagious, how long should you quarantine for and when is the best time test?

Read more here.

This content was originally published here.