COVID Variant Tracker, Isolation Guidelines – NBC Chicago

As the holidays quickly approach, the BA. 5 variant could soon lose its spot as the dominant strain as new variants gain steam.

What does that mean for upcoming gatherings and what should you know?

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

Pair of BA.5 Descendants Prepare to Overtake it as Nation’s Dominant COVID Variant

In the ever-evolving landscape of COVID-19 variants, two descendants of the BA.5 strain could potentially overtake it as the dominant version of the virus circulating in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Nowcast,” released Friday, the BQ.1.1 subvariant is now responsible for 24.1% of COVID cases in the United States, while the BQ.1 subvariant is responsible for 20.1% of cases.

Read more here.

What to Know About Quarantine, Isolation and Testing for COVID Ahead of the Holidays

With concerns of a “tripledemic” on the rise ahead of the holiday season, and several Chicago-area counties under heightened COVID alert levels, what should you know if you test positive for COVID or come into contact with someone who has?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued changes to its COVID guidelines over the summer, changing the recommendations for quarantine, social distancing and even testing.

Since then, bivalent COVID booster shots have been administered, but a rise in RSV and flu, coupled with continued COVID cases have left some worried.

Here’s what you should know.

Moderna Announces New Data on Effectiveness of Bivalent COVID Booster

Moderna on Monday revealed its newest trial data showed its bivalent COVID booster shots “elicited a superior neutralizing antibody response against Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants” when compared to its original vaccine and booster shots.

“We are pleased to see that both of our bivalent booster vaccine candidates offer superior protection against Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants compared to our original booster, which is encouraging given COVID-19 remains a leading cause of hospitalization and death globally. In addition, the superior response against Omicron persisted for at least three months after the mRNA-1273.214 booster,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Bancel also noted that the data appeared to indicate the bivalent shots showed protection against the new BQ.1.1 subvariant currently growing in numbers in the U.S.

“Our bivalent boosters also show, in research assays, neutralizing activity against BQ.1.1, an increasingly dominant emerging variant, confirming that updated vaccines have the potential to offer protection as the virus continues to evolve rapidly to escape our immunity,” Bancel said.

Doctors Urge Vaccinations as Respiratory Viruses Circulate Ahead of Holiday Season

Health officials across the Chicago area are urging people to get vaccinated ahead of the colder weather, especially with cases of RSV and the flu rising.

“This ‘tripledemic’… what we’re calling it right now involves three viruses,” explained Dr. Geraldine Luna, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Respiratory viruses such as the flu, RSV and COVID-19 are “spreading rapidly” across Illinois, the state’s Department of Public Health said earlier this week.

Read more here.

‘Tripledemic’ Feared as RSV and Flu Cases Rise, COVID Community Levels Increase in Chicago Area

With winter approaching and Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, doctors warn the U.S. could potentially face what’s being called a “tripledemic” – a rise in three respiratory illnesses.

“When we say ‘tripledemic’ what we mean is that we’re seeing high cases of RSV, high cases of influenza, and we expect we’re going to see high cases of COVID as well,” explained Dr. Kevin Smith.

Read more here.

Cook County, Chicago Now Under ‘Medium’ COVID Alert Level. What You Should Know

Chicago and Cook County are among several places in the Chicago area now under an elevated COVID alert level.

“We are already seeing influenza surging in the southern U.S., COVID is back on the increase as we move back into a Medium COVID level locally, and Chicago’s pediatric hospitals are already bursting with children seriously ill from other respiratory viruses, like RSV,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “Families will be traveling and gathering indoors for the holidays, and I worry about that increased circulation of COVID-19 and flu, and especially the possibility of severe outcomes for those who remain unvaccinated or not up to date.”

Read more here.

6 Chicago-Area Counties Under Elevated COVID Alert Level. Here’s What That Means

Six Chicago-area counties are now under an elevated COVID alert level, with new mask recommendations taking effect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will and Grundy counties are now all under the “medium community level” for COVID.

Here’s what that means for you.

IDPH Warns Respiratory Viruses ‘Spreading Rapidly’ Ahead of Holidays

Illinois health officials are warning that respiratory viruses are “spreading rapidly” in the lead-up to the holidays, with RSV, flu and COVID-19 continuing to spread as days shorten and temperatures cool.

“The U.S. is currently facing its highest flu hospitalization rate in a decade, with young children and seniors most at risk,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. “Vaccines remain our best tools to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19 and flu. I strongly recommend all that have not gotten full protection from COVID-19 and the flu to get vaccinated right away. Both the new COVID-19 bivalent booster and the flu shot target the current strains of these viruses.”

Read more here.

COVID-19 Cases Fall in Illinois as Over 1.5 Million Bivalent Booster Shots Have Been Administered Statewide

Illinois health officials reported 11,020 new COVID-19 cases since Nov. 4, along with 38 additional deaths over the past six days.

Cases and deaths have seen a notable decline over the previous week, which saw 14,225 new COVID-19 cases and 54 additional deaths from the virus.

Read more here.