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BREAKING: New Covid Variant Spreads Across Illinois, Spiking Calls For Mask Mandates

A new covid variant is spreading through Illinois, leading to new mask mandates in hospitals and other public places and leading to renewed calls for wider mask mandates to halt the potential spread of the new offshoot virus.

Illinois as covid numbers have begun to spike again as the year nears its end. In Illinois, 1,225 new COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported last week, up 22 percent over the previous week.

The number of counties listed at the “high” level for COVID-19 hospitalizations has doubled from five to 10 Illinois counties in central Illinois, including Sangamon, according to the CDC’s national COVID Data Tracker, as of the week ending December 2. That means they have seen more than 20 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population in the last week. Another 41 counties are at medium level for COVID-19 hospitalizations during the period, with between 10 and 20 COVID hospitalizations per 100,000, health officials said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has recommended that hospital patients and officials begin wearing masks to minimize the spread of covid and other viruses.

In a news release, health officials said that IDPH supports the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of facility-wide masking at healthcare facilities that are in counties rated at high levels for COVID-19 hospitalizations or per facility discretion in areas where data shows elevated transmission of other respiratory viruses such as flu and RSV, even if COVID-19 hospitalization levels are not high in those areas.

 

BREAKING: New Covid Variant Spreads Across Illinois, Spiking Calls For Mask Mandates

 

The state recently unveiled a new respiratory virus dashboard for Illinois that is updated each Friday. Under the guidance distributed today, healthcare facilities are advised to follow CDC guidance and implement facility-wide masking in counties that have high levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

In counties with increased incidence of respiratory illness in the community, hospitals are advised to screen staff and visitors for symptoms of respiratory viruses; to remind visitors entering patient rooms about hand hygiene and cough etiquette; and to encourage those with respiratory symptoms (such as fever, cough or sore throat) to defer non-urgent hospital visits and get tested for respiratory viruses before in-person visits or use telehealth services if possible.

BREAKING: New Covid Variant Spreads Across Illinois, Spiking Calls For Mask Mandates

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has yet to announce any changes in the Illinois covid policies from their current status.

Months after most medical facilities across Illinois dropped mask requirements as COVID-19 cases dropped across the state, state health officials are now recommending that patients again mask up in the face of increased respiratory viruses.

The Illinois Department of Public Health made the recommendation late last week as 51 Illinois counties are now reporting medium or high levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Due to the increase, the state is recommending that hospitals and other medical facilities step up their mitigation efforts to minimize the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, the flu and RSV.

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The health department issued a health alert on Thursday to hospitals, long-term care facilities, and local health departments outlining various mitigation measures such as masking and screening, especially in areas where more vulnerable patients are treated.

“With the alarming rise in respiratory viruses we are seeing across the state and the country, IDPH is recommending healthcare facilities take precautions to reduce the spread of these viruses and protect their patients, staff, and visitors,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a news release. “We are most concerned with healthcare facilities in counties with elevated respiratory virus transmission and hospitalization levels and recommend masking in patient care areas, especially in emergency departments and areas caring for patients who are immunocompromised.”

 

BREAKING: New Covid Variant Spreads Across Illinois, Spiking Calls For Mask Mandates

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Sean Leary Director of Digital Media

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.

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