28 Illinois counties at elevated COVID-19 risk

28 Illinois counties at elevated COVID-19 risk

Federal health officials recommend indoor masking in public in three Illinois counties due to COVID-19 trends, down two from the prior week, according to the most recent federal data.

People at high risk of severe illness are recommended to take precautions in 25 other counties, down 31 from the prior week.

Last week, BQ1.1 was the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Variant proportions were:

  • BQ.1.1: 40.3 percent, down 2.6 percentage points from the prior week.
  • XBB.1.5: 23.8 percent, up 8.6 percentage points.
  • BQ.1: 19.5 percent, down 2.7 percentage points.

Other COVID-19 lineages were circulating at less than 5 percent each.

“Rates of the XBB ‘kraken’ variant, spreading throughout the East Coast, are slowly increasing in the Midwest, and we continue to monitor this new variant closely,” Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. “However, we are fortunate at this time to see no increase in hospitalizations.”

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said they’re also pleased with the current trend of COVID in the city.

“I think this is evidence that Chicagoans are doing the right thing — wearing masks in public settings, staying home when they are sick and even cracking windows to improve ventilation when gathering,” she said, while reiterating that the updated COVID-19 booster vaccine remains effective against the XBB.1.5 variant.

As of Thursday, 1,249 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, down 36 from Wednesday and down 183 from the prior week.

There have been a total of 4,008,844 cases and 36,000 deaths in Illinois.

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