IDPH: People should be cautious of surge in COVID-19, flu cases

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 5:46 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - The Illinois Department of Public Health says people should stay cautious during the current surge in respiratory illness. RSV cases put Illinois pediatric ICU beds at critical levels in November, but IDPH is now concerned about the rise in adults hospitalized for severe cases of COVID-19 and influenza.

IDPH Assistant Director Amaal Tokars said one of the biggest problems has been people going to work when they are sick and infecting others. Tokars told the Illinois State Board of Health Thursday that unvaccinated people are also a major risk factor.

Tokars explained that only 20% of Illinoisans have received the bivalent COVID-19 booster. The department is encouraging everyone to get up-to-date on COVID-19 and flu vaccines as soon as possible. 17,230 people received COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday. 86.6% of Illinoisans 12 and older have received at least one shot. 78.4% of those people are fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average for shots given is 16,176.

As of Thursday, there are 1,624 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois. 187 of those patients are in the ICU, and 67 are on ventilators.

“When you are in very crowded conditions where you have no idea whether or not the people that are with you are sick or not and the community levels are high, then a protective factor is to put on a face covering,” Tokars said.

Tokars noted that 12 counties are labeled at the high community transmission level, but that number is likely to rise over the coming weeks. The CDC categorized 51 counties at medium risk for COVID-19 spread last Friday.

“We’re bubbling up here, there, and everywhere,” Tokars said. “And that we will see, very likely if this continues, a rise in community levels around the state.”

Tokars stressed that people should be wearing masks in indoor public spaces, especially if they are in a county at the high community level. That recommendation could be included in Gov. JB Pritzker’s next COVID-19 disaster declaration and executive order. The current declaration and executive order expire on Friday.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said Pritzker filed the new declaration with the Secretary of State’s Office Thursday night. Digital copies of every COVID-19 disaster declaration and executive order can be found by clicking here.

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