Illinois’ Top Doctors Prepare for Winter as COVID-19 Rates Climb


Illinois passed a grim milestone on Tuesday: more than 9,000 people have died due to the coronavirus. And cases are on the rise.

The state’s seven-day statewide positivity rate is also creeping upward, at 4.5% Tuesday compared to 3.4% one week ago, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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As we head into the colder months, many residents have questions about what measures public health officials will take if the infection rate continues to grow.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says public health officials comb through a lot of metrics to determine how the state moves forward, including test positivity by region, hospitalizations, deaths, emergency room visits due to COVID-19 and hospital bed availability.

But Ezike said Illinoisans need to be prepared to do things differently to help keep positivity rates down — especially during the upcoming holidays.

It’s important to understand that “people who are not in your household, even if they share the same last name as you, are not part of your bubble,” Ezike said. “People have to get used to the idea of wearing masks in their own home when they’re with mixed company.”

In the meantime, both the city and state health departments said they’re preparing for a vaccine. Earlier Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the Chicago Department of Public Health has been planning a regimen for vaccinations for several months.

“Obviously, we don’t know at this point what the vaccine will be — whether it will be one shot, multiple shots,” Lightfoot said. “I don’t think we are in the position right now to opine about that because there’s lot of different trials that are in various states.”       

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the city is using its flu campaign to practice methods for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, such as getting vaccines in a drive-thru.

“We’re planning for all eventualities — not for sure knowing when or the details of what will be needed, but we’re ready no matter when it comes,” Arwady said.


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