Mask Mandate Data, Spring Break Travel Guidance – NBC Chicago


Mask Mandate Data, Spring Break Travel Guidance – NBC Chicago


For the first time since the end of Illinois’ mask mandate, residents in all 102 counties can safely visit public indoor spaces without wearing masks, data shows.

Meanwhile, spring break season is taking off across the country and TSA is bracing for a spike in travel volume that will surpass 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

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

Masks No Longer Recommended in Any of Illinois’ 102 Counties, CDC Says

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

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

Under metrics released a week earlier, masks had only been recommended in Johnson County, which had been ranked as a high community level – the highest level of COVID-19 risk.

Read more here.

The Latest Mask Guidance and Travel Tips Ahead of a Busy Spring Break Travel Weekend

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

For United Airlines, this weekend is expected to be one of the busiest for spring break travel.

With COVID restrictions rescinded in much of the country, people are seizing the opportunity to get away and take in different sights.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

Under the mandate, masks are required on buses, trains and airplanes as well as at transportation facilities until April 18.

Read more here.

What is BA.2 or ‘Stealth Omicron’? What to Know as Cases Abroad Spark Concern

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

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

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

Coronavirus in Illinois: 7K New Cases, 123 Deaths in Last Week as Decline Continues

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

The previous week, the state reported 8,519 new cases and 149 deaths. The week before that, 10,462 new cases and 272 deaths were reported.

More on the state’s latest COVID metrics here.

Experts Say New COVID Variants Likely, But How Severe Will They Be?

While many are closely watching omicron subvariant BA.2 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 arisen, some have predicted the next variant could arrive as early as May.

Public health officials in Chicago said they are “certainly expecting more variants to emerge,” but it remains unclear if such variants will be more or less severe than previous strains. There’s one thing they’re watching, though, that they believe could make a difference.

Read more here.

Why Chicago Health Officials Say They Are ‘Concerned’ About COVID Trends in Europe

With COVID upticks being seen across parts of Europe, many coinciding with a rise in BA.2 or “stealth omicron” cases, what does that signal for the U.S. as restrictions ease?

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

“I’m going to be honest, I am concerned about what’s happening in Europe because I think there is not a full understanding of it,” Chicago Department of Public Health Director Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Thursday.

Read more here.

How Worried Should You Be About BA.2 or ‘Stealth Omicron’? Here’s What Chicago Experts Say

With COVID outbreaks being reported in a number of countries around the world, and upticks being seen across Europe, many coinciding with a rise in BA.2 or “stealth omicron” cases, how worried should you be?

Chicago’s top doctor said Thursday it remains unclear what effect the BA.2 subvariant will have on the city’s fight against COVID, though she is “concerned” by 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 Amid Objections by Chicago Teachers Union

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

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

Read more here.

Scientists Explore Potential Links Between COVID-19 And Diabetes

It’s clear that in those who already have diabetes, COVID-19 can worsen the condition and lead to severe complications. But there are other possible links.

Emerging evidence shows that the coronavirus — like some other viruses — can attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas — a process that might trigger at least temporary diabetes in susceptible people. Rising cases might also reflect circumstances involving pandemic restrictions, including delayed medical care for early signs of diabetes or unhealthy eating habits and inactivity in people already at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Read more here.

COVID by the Numbers: Illinois Case Numbers Begin to Flatten After Long Decline

After a long decline from the heights of the omicron variant, Illinois’ COVID case numbers have begun to flatten out, 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 represents a slight increase from March 8, when the state’s average hit its low-point of 1,114 new cases per day, according to IDPH data.

Read more here.

Which COVID Vaccine Will Be Best for Children Under 5?

With masks coming off in several states and many COVID restrictions lifting in the U.S., many are anxiously awaiting news that children under the age of 5 could 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 began a mask-optional policy.

The changing guidelines surrounding COVID not just in Illinois have many parents questioning how best to protect their kids.

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

Full breakdown here.

COVID, Cold, Allergies: How Can You Tell the Difference in Symptoms?

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

With many experiencing cold-like symptoms, and with the start of spring allergies, it can be hard to decipher what could be behind the onset of symptoms.

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

Read more here for a breakdown of symptoms.


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