State health department warns respiratory illnesses are on the rise

State health department warns respiratory illnesses are on the rise

Urges public to stay home when sick, practice good hand hygiene


Cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV are "circulating widely," according to the Illinois Department of Public Health and officials in the department are urging people to exercise caution and get vaccinated if they are able.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of Dec. 30, 18 counties are listed at "high" levels of COVID-19 hospitalization, meaning more than 20 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. That's four more counties than the week prior.

In addition to COVID-19, flu activity is about on par with the 2019-2020 flu season - the last before COVID hit. IDPH confirms two pediatric deaths from flu in December and is investigating a third.

IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a Friday news release the winter holiday season typically brings increases in seasonal virus spread.

"I encourage all Illinoisians - and especially those most vulnerable to serious illness - to stay informed about respiratory illnesses in their area and use all the tools available to keep themselves and their loved ones safe," Vohra said.

Precautions include good hand hygiene, ensuring proper ventilation and staying home and away from others if people develop symptoms like coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, or fever. COVID-19 levels are highest in west-central Illinois, the Kankakee area and Johnson County in southern Illinois. While no counties in northern Illinois are at a "high" level, all counties along the Wisconsin border as well as Cook County are at "medium" levels of hospitalization, meaning there are at least 10 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

About 24 percent of Illinoisans are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations as of Dec. 23, according to a weekly CDC survey. About 35 percent of Illinoisans reported they "definitely or probably will not get a vaccine."

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit news service operated by the Illinois Press Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers, broadcast outlets and other media throughout Illinois.

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