The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has issued a warning that COVID-19 case rates are slowly rising in many areas of the state and that members of the public should be paying close attention to conditions in their local communities and staying up-to-date on their vaccination status.
“While hospitalizations and deaths tied to COVID-19 remain stable at this time, we are seeing a slow increase in cases in many areas of the State,” said Acting IDPH Director Amaal Tokars. “This is a reminder that we all need to remain vigilant and remain up to date on our vaccination status. This is especially important for those who are at higher risk for serious outcomes.”
Tokars stressed that vaccination is the most effective tool we have to fight the virus – and that it is easy to find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you by either calling your local health provider or going to www.vaccines.gov. The State of Illinois remains strongly positioned to respond in the event of a new COVID-19 surge. The State stockpile of tests has been replenished, with more than 1.5 million rapid tests on hand, and a half a million more on the way. In addition, hospitals, schools, and long term care facilities have been urged take steps to increase their current testing capacity.
The State is also supporting pharmacies and healthcare providers in efforts to increase their inventories of the various FDA-authorized treatments in case of another surge. IDPH is advising providers to assess their patients quickly, within five days of the onset of symptoms, after a COVID-19 diagnosis to determine if they are eligible for treatment. IDPH is also reminding the public about the recent guidance from the CDC that authorized a second booster dose for certain segments of the population at least four months after the first booster dose. This includes adults over 50 years of age, and people who are immunocompromised – those with a poor ability to fight infections – over 12 years old.
State health officials are stressing the following precautions, which are critically important for those who are at high risk for serious illness:
• Get vaccinated and stay up-to-date on recommended booster shots to protect yourself, your loved ones and friends.
• If you are in an area with rising COVID-19 infections, wear a mask if entering indoor spaces with other people present and consider avoiding large gatherings.
• Stick to well-ventilated areas if you are not wearing a mask indoors around other people.
• If you feel flu-like symptoms, self-isolate and stay home from work as well as social gatherings; and obtain a test as quickly as possible.
• If you test positive, talk to your provider immediately so you can get COVID-19 treatment within five days of starting to feel sick. Also, communicate about the positive result with any persons you have been in close contact within two days of falling sick or testing positive.
• Continue to frequently wash your hands and cover coughs and sneezes. For more information, go to: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19.html. The federal government recently established a new website that provides an all-purpose toolkit that provides information on how to obtain masks, treatment, vaccines and testing resources for all areas of the country at: https://www.covid.gov/.