New Illinois COVID-19 disaster declaration, executive order as respiratory surge continues

There are now 29 Illinois counties in orange rated at the high community level for COVID-19....
There are now 29 Illinois counties in orange rated at the high community level for COVID-19. The CDC is also reporting the 45 counties in yellow are at medium risk.(Illinois Department of Public Health)
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 2:11 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - A new COVID-19 disaster declaration and executive order took effect for Illinois on Friday. Gov. JB Pritzker filed the executive documents late Thursday in response to the recent surge in respiratory illness.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday that there were 21,404 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases since last Friday. The state also reported another 56 deaths during that time. 35,550 Illinoisans have died from COVID-related illnesses since the pandemic started.

IDPH and the CDC also reported that there are now 74 counties at an elevated risk for COVID-19. The CDC said there are 29 counties listed at the high community level in orange and 45 counties rated for medium-level risk in yellow. The state reported 12 counties at the high community level and 51 counties at the medium community level last week. IDPH officials said this anticipated post-holiday surge is a reminder that people should take action to protect themselves and their loved ones during the remainder of the holiday season.

“These elevated COVID-19 community levels, along with rising flu levels, are leading to a surge of respiratory infections and increased hospitalizations,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “I recommend all Illinoisans - and especially those most vulnerable including young children and individuals over 65 - take all preventative steps to protect themselves, their families and friends.”

Dr. Vohra stressed that people should test for COVID-19, especially if they visit someone at risk for severe disease. He reminded people to practice good hand hygiene, stay home and seek treatment when sick, and get up-to-date with the COVID-19 bivalent booster and flu shots.

“A high-quality mask or respirator is also recommended and will protect you from COVID-19, the flu, and other respiratory viruses,” Vohra said. “Our hope is for Illinoisans across our state to have a happy and healthy holiday season.”

Vohra noted that anyone testing positive for COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately to discuss whether they need treatment. Paxlovid, Lagverio and Remdesivir have been found to work against the current strains of the virus.

The case rate 7-day average is now 168 per 100,000 people. 1,582 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois. 188 people are in the ICU and 69 of those patients are on ventilators.

Boone, Lee, Ogle, and Winnebago Counties in Northern Illinois are labeled at the high community level. High-risk counties in Central Illinois include Adams, Brown, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Cumberland, Edgar, Fulton, Knox, Logan, Macoupin, Marshall, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Sangamon, Tazewell and Vermillion. Franklin, Johnson, Massac and Williamson Counties in Southern Illinois are also at the high community level for COVID-19.

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.

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 2 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 16,008 doses, including the bivalent booster and first doses.

17,747 vaccines were given over the last 24 hours. 86.6% of Illinoisans 12 and older have received at least one shot. 78.3% of those people are fully vaccinated.

The CDC authorized the updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 5 to 11 on Oct. 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.

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