IDPH: 14,388 COVID-19 cases, 59 deaths over past week

FILE - A patient is given a flu vaccine at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise...
FILE - A patient is given a flu vaccine at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans' Community Resource Center where they were offering members and the public free flu and COVID-19 vaccines Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Lynwood, Calif. As Americans head into the late 2022 holiday season, a rapidly intensifying flu season is straining hospitals already overburdened with patients sick from other respiratory infections. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)(WSAW)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 3:21 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging people to celebrate Thanksgiving safely by taking precautions to protect vulnerable family members from COVID-19 and the flu. IDPH and the CDC reported 14,388 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases over the last week. The state also reported another 59 deaths during that time. 35,414 Illinoisans have died from COVID-related illnesses since the pandemic started.

IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra is also recommending that people get tested for COVID-19 before attending holiday gatherings, especially if they will visit someone at high risk for severe COVID-19.

“As respiratory illnesses such as RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 are continuing to lead to illnesses and hospitalizations, there are a number of strategies that will keep us all healthy and safe,” Vohra said. “These include COVID-19 testing, enhanced ventilation, good hand hygiene, staying home if sick, and getting up to date with both the COVID-19 bivalent booster and the flu shot.”

The case rate 7-day average is now 113 per 100,000 people. 1,112 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois. 112 people are in the ICU and 41 of those patients are on ventilators.

21 counties in Illinois are currently at an elevated community level for COVID-19. Winnebago County is the only area of the state considered to be at the high community level in orange.

The CDC recommends people in areas rated at the high community level should wear well-fitted masks indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. The organization notes that the recommendation includes masking in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings. People who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease should wear a mask or respirator for greater protection and consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public. The CDC said those people should also have a plan for at-home testing and talk with a healthcare provider if they test positive to learn about oral antivirals and monoclonal antibodies.

Anyone in close contact with someone at high risk for severe disease is advised to consider self-testing to detect COVID-19 infection before contact. The CDC also said those people should wear a mask whenever they are inside with someone at higher risk for disease.

There are now 20 Illinois counties in yellow rated at the medium community level for COVID-19....
There are now 20 Illinois counties in yellow rated at the medium community level for COVID-19. There is one county in orange rated at the high community level.(Illinois Department of Public Health)

The counties listed at the medium community level are Adams, Boone, Crawford, Fulton, Henderson, Jo Daviess, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Stephenson, Tazewell, Wabash, Warren, and Washington.

Elderly or immunocompromised people living in areas labeled at medium-level risk for COVID-19 should wear masks in indoor places as well. The CDC said those individuals should be up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines and get a second booster shot if eligible.

IDPH data indicated that the risk of hospitalization and severe outcomes from COVID-19 is much higher for unvaccinated people than for people who are up to date on their vaccinations.

The state continues to work with pharmacies and healthcare providers to increase the inventory of various FDA-authorized treatments. IDPH reported there are over 1,200 treatment locations across the state, including all major retail pharmacies. More than 96.7% of the state’s population is within a 10-mile radius of one of these locations.

More than 1.7 million people in Illinois have received a dose of the bivalent COVID-19 booster shots since they were authorized in early September. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 21,778 doses, including the bivalent booster and first doses.

The CDC authorized the updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 5 to 11 on October 12. Bivalent vaccines from Moderna were also authorized for children and young adults 6 to 17 on the same day. Doctors, parents, and guardians can find resources from the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics by clicking here.

The updated booster shots are available at pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. You can look for a vaccine provider near you by clicking here and searching for bivalent booster availability.

IDPH is also distributing 1 million COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to 200,000 families in economically disadvantaged zip codes outside of Chicago. The effort was made possible through a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s public charity and its Project ACT (Access COVID Tests) program. People can find out if they live in an eligible zip code and request a package of five tests at the Project ACT website. The COVID-19 tests will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis and will be delivered to the home address applicants use.

Vohra is also reminding Illinoisans to follow food safety guidelines while preparing Thanksgiving feasts. IDPH said people should know how to handle hot and cold foods in order to prevent food-borne illnesses.

“When it comes to a Thanksgiving meal, it is important to follow basic food safety tips, including properly thawing frozen turkeys and making sure your turkey and stuffing are thoroughly cooked to a safe temperature of 165° Fahrenheit,” Vohra said. “I hope all Illinoisans have a great holiday.”

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