Chicago Metrics, COVID Vaccines and Kids Under 5 – NBC Chicago

COVID vaccines for children under the age of 5 took a major step forward as many parents anxiously await approval for the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination.

And numbers are beginning to show small signs of increase in the city, but health officials say they’re still very much under control.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

When Could COVID Vaccine Begin for Kids Under 5 and Which Shot is Best?

COVID vaccines for children under the age of 5 took a major step forward Wednesday as many parents anxiously await approval for the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination as restrictions lift across the U.S.

Already, Chicago has lifted its masking and vaccination mandates and Illinois has lifted its indoor mask and school mask mandates.

The changing guidelines surrounding COVID, not just in Illinois, have many parents questioning how best to protect their kids. The nation’s 18 million children under 5 are the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination.

While the race is on to get the youngest members of the population vaccinated, which vaccine will work best and when might one be approved?

Here’s what we know so far.

‘Large Surges’ Reported Around the World. What Does That Mean for US, Chicago?

COVID is surging in several countries around the world, and while that has previously been an indicator of what to expect next in the U.S., what could make this time different?

Experts are predicting a potential rise in cases, particularly surrounding the BA.2 subvariant, with some locations seeing current metrics near what Chicago reported in the peak of its omicron surge.

“We’re seeing countries with 50% positivity, 60% positivity, 30% positivity, you know, even like the UK over 10% positivity,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a COVID update Tuesday.

What makes this different? Read more here.

Chicago to Reduce Some COVID Programs, Officials Announce

Chicago plans to cut back its at-home vaccination program and its gift card incentives as demand wanes.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s chief health official, said Tuesday at-home vaccinations will be offered four days a week instead of seven beginning April 1.

See more of the changes expected here.

Chicago Health Officials ‘Keeping a Close Eye’ on Slight Rise in COVID Metrics

Chicago’s COVID metrics saw a slight increase over the last week as health officials closely watch for signs of a surge due to the BA.2 variant, but the city’s top doctor said the levels remain “very much in control.”

The average daily number of new cases in Chicago climbed this week to 156, up from 136 the previous week, according to the city’s dashboard, though the number continues to remain well-below the 5,189 seen earlier this year.

The positivity rate also rose slightly to 0.8%, up from 0.7% last week.

Read more here.

BA.2 Subvariant Expected to Be Dominant in Chicago By End of Month, Top Doc Says

The BA.2 omicron subvariant is expected to make up most of Chicago’s COVID cases by the end of the month, the city’s top doctor said Tuesday.

Noting a small increases in cases, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said while the COVID risk remains low in the city, data shows the number of cases of the BA.2 subvariant are doubling every week.

“All we’re seeing right now in Chicago and across the Midwest is omicron. We are seeing two primary subvariants of omicron: the B1, which is the one that hit us through the surge, is still about 69% and BA.2, which is the one that we’re watching and is more contagious than B.1 and probably some of what is driving that increase around the world, is just over 30% at this point. In Chicago, we’ve seen that BA.2 doubling about every seven days, so we do think we’ll see predominance, meaning most of our cases will be that BA.2, by the end of the month.”

Read more here.

Chicago Announces Changes to Travel Advisory Format Beginning Friday

Starting later this week, Chicago’s travel advisory will look different as city officials announced plans to change how the advisory is structured.

Starting later this week, Chicago’s travel advisory will look different as city officials announced plans to change how the advisory is structured.

Following changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city said it will instead categorize counties and locations as low, medium or high risk, based on data provided by the CDC. Residents will need to check the map for the latest information prior to travel.

“Chicago’s Travel Advisory was always meant to be used by Chicagoans as a tool to help make informed decisions about travel based on their individual and local COVID-19 risk,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. “As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, it’s important for us to remember that all risk is local – and by aligning with the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels, we’re able to better recommend the prevention steps that align with the specific risk.”

See the changes here.

Symptoms, Transmissibility, and More: What We Know About the BA.2 Subvariant

What is the BA.2 omicron subvariant and will it lead to another surge in the U.S.?

Experts say what happens in the next few weeks in the U.S. could be critical to whether or not the U.S. will follow in Europe’s footsteps.

So what is BA.2, what are the symptoms associated with it, where has it been detected and how contagious is it?

Here’s a breakdown.

COVID Symptoms vs. Cold: Here’s How to Tell the Difference

If you’ve come down with a runny nose recently, you may be wondering whether you’re experiencing the common cold, allergies or maybe COVID-19.

Health officials say it can be difficult to tell what you’re experiencing based on the symptoms, but getting tested is one way to find out. That includes people who have been vaccinated, experts say.

Read more here.