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BA.2 Variant Predictions, Masking Guidelines Update – NBC Chicago

How fast is the BA.2 variant spreading in the United States?

Experts warn that another rise in cases could be coming.

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

Health experts predict rise in COVID cases in US due to new BA.2 variant

US health experts warn that an emerging and highly contagious variant of Covid omicron, called BA.2, could soon lead to a further increase in domestic coronavirus cases.

White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said BA.2 is about 50% to 60% more transmissible than omicron, but it doesn’t appear to be more serious. Health officials continue to stress that coronavirus vaccines and boosters remain the best ways to prevent serious illness from the virus.

Learn more here.

Masks no longer recommended in any of Illinois’ 102 counties, CDC says

For the first time since the end of Illinois’ mask mandate, residents of all 102 counties can safely visit public indoor spaces without wearing a mask, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All counties in Illinois were listed in the low category on the CDC’s COVID-19 community-level map Thursday, meaning masks can be safely removed.

According to metrics released a week earlier, masks had only been recommended in Johnson County, which had been classified as Community Level High — the highest level of COVID-19 risk.

Learn more here.

The latest advice on masks and travel advice during busy spring break

This spring break season, the Transportation Security Administration is preparing for a spike in travel volume that will exceed 90% of pre-pandemic levels for March.

For United Airlines, this weekend should be one of the busiest for spring break.

With the cancellation of COVID restrictions in much of the country, people are taking the opportunity to get away from it all and take in different sights. Despite relaxed mitigations, the TSA’s mask mandate remains in place.

Under the mandate, masks are mandatory on buses, trains and planes as well as in transport facilities until April 18.

Learn more here.

What is BA.2 or ‘Stealth Omicron’? What to know as overseas cases raise concerns

The BA.2 variant is beginning to grow in parts of the United States and is believed to be causing a number of increases in COVID in several countries, so what is it? is exactly and what does the change mean as restrictions continue to ease?

Chicago’s top doctor said Thursday that the effect of the BA.2 subvariant on the city’s fight against COVID is still unclear, though she is “concerned” about what is happening in other parts of the world.

Here’s what we know so far about BA.2.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 7,000 new cases, 123 deaths last week as decline continues

Illinois health officials reported 7,467 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week, along with 123 additional deaths and more than 56,000 new vaccine doses administered, marking a continued decline in cases and death.

The previous week, the state had reported 8,519 new cases and 149 deaths. The previous week, 10,462 new cases and 272 deaths had been reported.

More information on the state’s latest COVID measures here.

Experts say new variants of COVID are likely, but how serious will they be?

While many are keeping a close eye on the omicron BA.2 subvariant and the so-called “deltacron” hybrid strain, some experts have suggested that new COVID variants could arrive in the coming months.

Based on how quickly new variants have appeared, some have predicted that the next variant could arrive as early as May.

Chicago public health officials said they “certainly expect more variants to emerge,” but it’s unclear whether these variants will be more or less severe than previous strains. There’s one thing they’re looking at, though, that they think could make a difference.

Learn more here.

Why Chicago health officials say they’re ‘concerned’ about COVID trends in Europe

With COVID spikes seen in parts of Europe, many of which coincide with an increase in BA.2 or “stealth omicron” cases, what does this signal to the US as restrictions tighten? soften?

Chicago’s top doctor said Thursday she was particularly concerned about the state of COVID cases in Europe.

“I’ll be honest, I’m concerned about what’s happening in Europe because I don’t think there’s a full understanding of it,” said the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady during a Facebook Live Thursday.

Learn more here.

How much should you worry about BA.2 or “Stealth Omicron”? Here’s what Chicago experts say

With COVID outbreaks reported in a number of countries around the world and increases seen across Europe, many of which coincide with an increase in cases of BA.2 or “stealth omicron”, how much should you be worried ?

Chicago’s top doctor said Thursday that the effect of the BA.2 subvariant on the city’s fight against COVID is still unclear, though she is “concerned” about what is happening in other parts of the world.

Here’s what we know so far.

CPS Mask – Optional Policy Upheld by State Labor Board Over Chicago Teachers’ Union Objections

A state labor board has denied the Chicago Teachers Union’s request to temporarily block Chicago Public Schools’ optional mask policy while the union’s legal challenge unfolds.

The Illinois Education Labor Relations Board’s 3-2 vote on Wednesday against a preliminary injunction is a disappointment for the union in its effort to immediately restore universal face coverings at CPS. But the union’s case against the district continues and could be expedited for a hearing as early as next month.

Learn more here.

Scientists explore potential links between COVID-19 and diabetes

It is clear that in those who already have diabetes, COVID-19 can make the disease worse and lead to serious complications. But there are other possible links.

New evidence shows that the coronavirus – like some other viruses – can attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas – a process that could trigger at least temporary diabetes in susceptible people. The rise in cases could also reflect circumstances involving pandemic restrictions, including delayed medical care for early signs of diabetes or poor eating habits and inactivity in people already at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Learn more here.

COVID by the numbers: Illinois case count begins to flatten after long decline

After a long decline from the highs of the omicron variant, the number of COVID cases in Illinois has begun to level off, along with the state’s hospitalization rates.

According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state reported 1,574 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the daily average to 1,251 new cases per day.

That’s a slight increase from March 8, when the state average bottomed out at 1,114 new cases per day, according to IDPH data.

Learn more here.

Which COVID vaccine will be best for children under 5?

With the removal of masks in several states and the lifting of many COVID restrictions in the United States, many are anxiously awaiting the news that children under the age of 5 may be eligible for vaccination.

Already, Chicago has lifted its masking and vaccination mandates and Illinois has lifted its indoor mask and school mask mandates. On Monday, Chicago Public Schools launched a mask-optional policy.

Changing guidelines surrounding COVID, not just in Illinois, have many parents wondering how best to protect their children.

As the race is on to get the youngest members of the population vaccinated, which vaccine will work best?

Full breakdown here.

COVID, colds, allergies: how to tell the difference between symptoms?

If you’re wondering if that runny nose, sore throat, or sneezing is just allergies, just a cold, or possibly signs of COVID-19, you’re not alone.

With many cold symptoms and with the onset of spring allergies, it can be difficult to decipher what could be causing the symptoms to appear.

Experts say the only real way to know the answer is to test, but until then health officials say treat all possible symptoms like COVID.

Read more here for a breakdown of symptoms.

NBC Chicago

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