IDPH urges vaccinations, masking by some over Thanksgiving

A KN95 black mask and a blue surgical style mask. The Lee County Health Department is recommending masks be worn indoors to prevent close contact infections, citing a rise of COVID-19 cases.

The Illinois Department of Public Health urged Illinoisans to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and the flu for Thanksgiving — and to take precautions for family members who are vulnerable to contracting the virus.

Testing for COVID-19 is recommended before any gathering.

Several counties in northern Illinois have elevated risk levels of COVID-19.

Winnebago County was listed at the highest level of risk. Lee, Ogle, Marshall, Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Boone were listed as having a medium level.

Updated risk rating for COVID-19 for northern Illinois. Winnebago County is at high risk; Lee, Ogle, Boone, Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Marshall counties are at medium risk.

In those counties, the elderly and immunocompromised are advised to wear a mask in all indoor public places.

The state reported 14,388 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state and 59 COVID-19 related deaths since Nov. 16.

As of Tuesday night, 1,112 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 112 patients were in the ICU and 41 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide case rate is 113 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Illinoisans.

“And as respiratory illnesses such as RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 are continuing to lead to illnesses and hospitalizations, there are a number of strategies that will keep us all healthy and safe,” said IDPH Director Sameer Vohra in a news release issued on Wednesday. “These include COVID-19 testing, especially if visiting someone at risk for severe disease; enhanced ventilation; good hand hygiene; staying home if sick; and getting up to date with both the COVID-19 bivalent booster and the flu shot.”

IDPH encourages the public to get tested before attending holiday gatherings, especially if you’ll be visiting someone at high risk for severe COVID-19; to stay home if you are sick; and practice good hand hygiene.

In addition, holiday hosts are urged to ensure gatherings are well-ventilated and to follow food safety guidelines in handling hot and cold foods to prevent food-borne illnesses.

IDPH is offering 1 million free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to residents in economically disadvantaged zip codes through a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s public charity, RF Catalytic Capital and its Project ACT (Access COVID Tests) program. Go to Project ACT website to see if your zip code qualifies.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network provides local news throughout northern Illinois