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BA.4 and BA.5 Spread in Midwest, Contagiousness – NBC Chicago

The new, highly transmissible omicron subvariants are now predominant in the Midwest, but what will that mean for the trajectory of the pandemic?

Chicago’s top doctor talked about the spread of the subvariants and what’s expected next.

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

How Long Are You Contagious With COVID? Chicago’s Top Doc Answers With the Latest Guidance

Chicago’s top doctor, during a Facebook live event Tuesday, detailed when patients are most infectious and how to treat a positive test result after 10 days.

“You’ve gotta stay home for five days because typically those first five days are when you are the most contagious,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “But in those days six to 10, some people still can be spreading virus.”

Read more here.

B.A. 4, BA.5 Omicron Subvariants Now Predominant COVID Strain in Midwest, Chicago’s Top Doc Says

As the coronavirus continues to infect the nation, the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants are now the predominant strains in the Midwest, according to Chicago’s top doctor.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live event Tuesday that the prevalent omicron strains are shifting quickly, with the latest two notably more infectious.

Read more here.

FDA Panel Recommends Changing Covid Shots to Fight Omicron This Fall

The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of independent vaccine experts on Tuesday voted 19 to 2 to recommend new Covid-19 shots that target the omicron variant this case, when public health officials are expecting a new wave of infections.

It is the first time the panel has proposed that vaccine makers modify the shots to target a different variant. The FDA will likely accept the committee’s recommendation and authorize a vaccine change. However, the panel did not make a recommendation on which omicron subvariant the shots should target.

Read more here.

Chicago’s Top Doctor Says COVID Vaccines Now Available For Everyone Over 6 Months Old Citywide

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced Tuesday that all those ages 6 months and older can now receive a free COVID-19 vaccine in the city, following certification from federal officials.

“Please take the opportunity, if you’ve got a little one who is now eligible for a COVID vaccine, take the opportunity to get everybody else in the family up to date with vaccines,” Arwady said in her COVID update Tuesday afternoon.

She reminded that, at this point, all teenagers and adults should have received three COVID vaccines to be considered “up to date” on vaccinations. Those over age 50 or severely immunocompromised should have received four shots.

Are At-Home COVID Tests Lowering Case Counts? Chicago’s Top Doctor Weighs In

Chicago’s COVID-19 community risk level is now at medium. But as the use of at-home coronavirus tests becomes widespread, questions about the accuracy of the city’s COVID metrics are also increasing.

COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations have dropped in recent weeks across Chicago, but some question whether smaller case counts can be attributed to an uptick in at-home COVID tests.

As of Thursday, the Chicago Department of Public Health reported an average of 675 confirmed cases each day, a 22% decline from a week prior. However, Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of CDPH, noted the confirmed cases only included people who’ve had a “formal” test, such as a PCR test or ones conducted at pharmacies or doctor’s offices.

Read more here.

COVID Symptoms vs. Cold: Here’s How to Spot the Difference

If you’ve come down with a runny nose or sore throat recently, you may be wondering whether it’s the common cold, allergies or a COVID-19 infection.

Health officials say it can be difficult to tell what illness you’re experiencing based on the symptoms, but getting tested is one way to find out — including people who have been vaccinated, experts say.

Read more here.

Chicago Reverts to ‘High’ COVID Alert Status as Other Areas See Improvements

Three Chicago-area counties as well as the city of Chicago have shifted to “high” community level status for COVID-19 in the past week. However, that’s not the case statewide as Illinois’ COVID situation has improved overall.

Suburban Cook, DuPage and Lake counties reported increases in metrics, and as a result, were moved from “medium” to “high” community level status, according to Thursday’s update of the CDC county-by-county community level map.

Read more here.

27K New Cases, 82 Deaths in Last Week With 20 Counties at High Level

Illinois health officials reported 27,094 new coronavirus cases over the past week, along with 82 additional deaths, marking slight declines in cases from seven days prior as 20 counties across the state remain at a “high” community level of COVID-19.

The previous week, the state reported 27,112 new cases, 68 deaths and 25 counties at “high” community level.

The week before that, the state reported 34,001 new cases and 73 deaths were reported.

Read more here.

BA.5 Omicron Subvariant Spreading Quickly, Could Become Dominant Strain of COVID in US: CDC

According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an omicron subvariant that has been the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US for more than a month is beginning to lose steam, and yet another variant of omicron is quickly gaining momentum.

Those estimates indicate that the BA.2.12.1 lineage of omicron continues to be the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, and is responsible for an estimated 56% of cases.

Read more here.

How Long Are You Protected From COVID After Infection?

After being infected with COVID-19, how long are you protected with antibodies and when could you get the virus again?

As omicron makes up nearly all US COVID cases, it’s a question of how protection from one version of omicron will work against newer subvariants.

Read more here.

Are COVID Symptoms Changing With New Variants? Chicago’s Top Doc Explains

Are COVID symptoms shifting with the newer omicron subvariants now spreading across the US?

According to Chicago’s top doctor, the answer remains unclear. Arwady noted that milder cases of the virus can make determining symptoms more challenging.

“We’re seeing a lot of COVID that is often quite mild,” she said, though she added that some early studies may show more intense illness specifically with newer BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Read more here.

Chicago’s COVID-19 community risk level is now at medium. But as the use of at-home coronavirus tests becomes widespread, questions about the accuracy of the city’s COVID metrics are also increasing.

More People Testing Negative for COVID Before Eventually Testing Positive, Top Doc Says. Here’s Why

More people are receiving multiple negative COVID tests before finally testing positive following exposure or symptoms with newer subvariants circulating, Chicago’s top doctor said Thursday.

The reason behind the shift could be due to vaccinations.

“We think some of that is because, especially if people are fully vaccinated and or if they’ve had COVID before, they’re not always…they’re not getting as sick,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “They’re like not learning as much of an immune response and it can take a little bit longer sometimes for that test to turn positive. The good news is, generally… if the home test is negative, you’re not very likely to have enough virus to be spreading, to be contagious.”

Read more here.

Can Kids Under 5 Get the COVID Vaccine at Walgreens? Here’s What to Know

Children six months of age to 5 years old are finally eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, thanks to last week’s authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And according to the Chicago Department of Public Health, hospitals, clinics, pediatricians offices across the city are opening up appointments, and placing orders for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to administer.

Local pharmacies and drug stores are, too.

However, not all kids are able to get the long-awaited shot at all vaccine locations.

Here’s a breakdown.

How Long Do You Quarantine or Isolate for COVID?

With summer gatherings ramping up and brutally hot temperatures sending people indoors, many are wondering how long they need to quarantine or isolate if they are exposed to or test positive for COVID.

Here’s a look at updated guidance from the CDC, including when to quarantine or isolate and information about the incubation period.

COVID Vaccines for Kids Under 5: How Soon Can You Make an Appointment, and Where? what to know

Where can parents take their kids to get their first COVID vaccine dose, how soon can you make an appointment, and what’s the difference between the two vaccines?

As providers wait for their shipments of shots to come in, here’s what to know.

Coronavirus FAQ: How Soon COVID Symptoms Can Start, What to Do If You Keep Testing Positive

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for more than two years, there are still plenty of questions that individuals may have if they end up testing positive for the virus.

Upon that positive test, patients may be curious about how long they’ll be contagious, how to isolate and for how long, and what to do if they continue to test positive for the virus even after their symptoms have cleared.

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the virus.

How Long Are You Contagious With COVID? Here’s What the CDC Says

If you test positive for coronavirus, you may have several questions, including how long you are contagious, how long you should quarantine for and more.

With COVID cases rising in the Chicago area and parts of the US, local health officials have issued warnings to take precautions, particularly in areas where transmission risk is increasing.

Here’s a look at updated guidance from the CDC, including when to quarantine or isolate and information about the incubation period.

How Accurate Are At-Home COVID Tests? Here’s What We Know So Far

With summer gatherings and events ramping up as temperatures warm, many people are testing themselves for COVID-19 to ensure they aren’t spreading the virus, but how accurate are the tests?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “positive results from self-tests are highly reliable.”

Negative results, however, may not rule out infection, particularly in those with COVID-19 symptoms, the CDC states.

Details here.

If you’re still coughing after recovering from COVID-19, are you still contagious? How long should you quarantine for and when should you get tested? Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady breaks down what to know.

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