Monica Eng
Dec 21, 2022 - COVID

Chicago officials warn of COVID spread over the holidays

Illustration of a backpack on a background of college ruled paper, surrounded by dots.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Health chief Allison Arwady and CPS chief Pedro Martinez are urging vigilance during the holiday break to quell the spread of COVID-19, flu and RSV.

Why it matters: Cases of all three have surged in recent weeks, and holiday gatherings are expected to increase their spread.

Monica Eng
Dec 7, 2022 - COVID

Avoiding a holiday tripledemic

Illustration of a Christmas tree with COVID balls as ornaments.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Health commissioner Allison Arwady is warning that low overall vaccination rates coupled with rising COVID-19, flu and RSV cases could spell trouble for the holidays.

Why it matters: "National influenza hospitalizations are higher than they have been in the past decade right now," Arwady said during her weekly briefing yesterday, noting that 28 Chicagoans had gone to the ICU with the flu in the previous seven days.

Monica Eng
Oct 19, 2022 - COVID

Fall germs forecast for Chicago

Illustration of a giant needle holding multiple needles inside, showing vaccination against multiple types of flu

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

CDPH commissioner Allison Arwady is warning that sluggish uptake of the new COVID-19 booster could spell trouble for the fall and winter.

Why it matters: Just about 10% of Chicagoans have gotten the booster, and that's "not enough to get us through this winter without a likely fairly significant surge," Arwady said yesterday during her weekly COVID update.

Monica Eng
Sep 6, 2022 - COVID

New COVID booster now available in Chicago. Here's what it's like

Arm with a sticker and bandaid for vaccine

Booster recipients get a sticker and a bandage. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Boy is my arm sore.

What happened: I got one of the first doses of the new COVID booster that targets Omicron BA. 4 and 5 that now make up all local cases.

Monica Eng
Aug 30, 2022 - COVID

CPS COVID cases triple

Illustration of a stack of wooden toy blocks showing a syringe, a COVID cell and a cotton swab.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

CPS reported three times as many COVID-19 cases during the first week of this school year as it did a year earlier.

Why it matters: The highly contagious BA. 5 variant is dominating local cases, and CPS has weakened COVID precautions. That irks at least one local doctor.

COVID-19 rules fall as contagious variants rise

Mask on street

A discarded surgical mask on the sidewalk in Lakeview. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Just as two highly contagious COVID-19 strains have taken over case rates in our region, state officials and at least one big event organizer have chosen to further relax mitigation rules.

Why it matters: BA.4 and BA.5 now make up more than 80% of our area's COVID cases. The strains are more contagious, leading some to warn about outdoor transmission. They're also better able to evade current vaccines and antibodies from a previous infection.

The case for masked hours

Illustration of a question mark wearing a mask.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

While we might be back down to "medium" COVID-19 transmission risk levels, hospitalizations across Illinois have actually doubled since mid-April.

  • As of Thursday, 1,309 people statewide were hospitalized with COVID, the most since Feb. 21.
Monica Eng
Jul 6, 2022 - COVID

Contagious subvariants dominate COVID-19 rates

Data: CDC; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants now make up more than 70% of all COVID-19 cases in the Region 5 area that includes Chicago.

  • The rate is calculated by running thousands of samples through genomic sequencing.

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