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Illinois Counties Experiencing Higher Levels of Respiratory Viruses

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) revealed that, despite a decrease in overall respiratory illness activity, more than half of the counties in the state are still experiencing elevated levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to CDC data, as of the week ending January 13, Illinois is at a Medium level for COVID-19 hospitalizations for the fourth consecutive week, with 1,393 hospitalizations reported.


The data indicates a positive trend as 54 counties are at an elevated level, down from the previous week's 57 counties. Among them, 50 counties are at a Medium level, and four counties are at a High level. The IDPH emphasizes the importance of vaccination, stating that only about 24% of adult Illinoisans are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine.


IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra urged residents to contact healthcare providers promptly if they develop respiratory symptoms, focusing on the availability of effective treatments for COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Notably, individuals with health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or without insurance can receive PAXLOVID, a highly effective COVID-19 treatment, at no charge through the Federal Patient Assistance Program.


The IDPH recommends staying home and wearing a mask if experiencing respiratory illness symptoms, and it encourages telehealth appointments for medical care. Public health experts advise mask-wearing in crowded areas, especially for those recently exposed to respiratory viruses or visiting high-risk individuals.


The update also emphasizes the effectiveness of the COVID-19 shots against dominant variants, recommends flu vaccines for individuals 6 months and older, and provides information on RSV and pneumonia shots. IDPH launched an Infectious Respiratory Disease Surveillance Dashboard for weekly updates on state conditions.


To spread awareness, IDPH introduced the 'Tis the Sneezin' campaign, emphasizing vaccinations against COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Additionally, the public can obtain four free at-home tests through the COVID.gov website, and high-risk settings receive a single swab triple-test for Flu/RSV and COVID-19 at no cost.


Illinoisans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can access no-cost telehealth services through the SIU School of Medicine or the NIH Test to Treat line. The federal government's COVID toolkit website provides comprehensive information on obtaining masks, treatment, vaccines, and testing resources. Find those resources at www.covid.gov.

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