IDPH Issues New Warning, COVID Shots for Kids Under 5 – NBC Chicago

There’s a new warning from Illinois health officials as the state’s COVID cases continue to increase.

The rise has many urging vaccinations and boosters, but what about the youngest populations who remain ineligible?

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

FDA Authorizes Breath Test That Can Detect For COVID

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued an emergency use authorization for what it said is the first device that can detect COVID-19 in breath samples.

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, the FDA said, and can be used in doctor’s offices, hospitals and mobile testing sites. The test, which can provide results in less than three minutes, must be carried out under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.

Read more here.

When Could COVID Vaccine Be Available for Kids Under 5? The Latest on Timing

COVID vaccines for children under the age of 5 took a major step forward last month as many parents anxiously await approval for the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination, but little has been heard since.

With cases of the omicron subvariant BA.2 on the rise across the U.S. and restrictions largely lifted across much of the U.S., parents of children still not eligible for vaccination are wondering when their time might come.

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.

Illinois Health Department Issues Warning With COVID Cases ‘Slowly Rising’ in State

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday issued a warning as COVID case rates are “slowly rising in many areas of the state.”

The health department said residents “should be paying close attention to conditions in their local communities” and urged vaccinations and booster shots for eligible populations.

Read more here.

Pfizer to Seek FDA Approval for COVID Booster in Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer said Thursday it wants to expand its COVID-19 booster shots to healthy elementary-age kids.

U.S. health authorities already urge everyone 12 and older to get one booster dose for the best protection against the newest variants — and recently gave the option of a second booster to those 50 and older.

Now Pfizer says new data shows healthy 5- to 11-year-olds could benefit from another kid-sized shot.

Read more here.

What the Extended Mask Mandate on Public Transit Means for Chicago Trains, Buses

As COVID-19 cases see an uptick across the U.S., including in and around Chicago, the Biden administration announced the nationwide mask requirement for public transportation systems will be extended for two weeks.

The requirement to wear a mask on airplanes, in airports and on buses and trains was set to expire on April 18. It will now extend through May 3, 2022.

According to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a mask is still required on public transportation, such as Chicago Transit Authority’s buses and trains, Metra lines, Amtrak and airplanes.

Read more here.

As BA.2 Continues Rapid Midwest Rise, Here Are COVID Symptoms to Watch For

With the BA.2 omicron subvariant continuing to spread across Chicago, Illinois and the U.S., what symptoms should you be watching for?

The “stealth omicron” subvariant has only been the dominant strain of COVID in the United States for less than a month, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now believes that it is responsible for more than 80% of new cases of the virus.

Read more here.

Illinois Changes Which COVID Metrics It Tracks. Here’s What to Look for Now

Illinois has long been documenting and reporting statewide COVID case and test positivity rates throughout the pandemic, but now the state will now be tracking a different set of data.

In what health officials say is an effort to align with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health will no longer track case and test positivity rates.

Instead, the department will now look at these metrics.

Illinois’ Top Doc Discusses Whether State is Considering Return to Mask Mandate

Even as the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois see increases in COVID cases, it doesn’t appear that officials are planning to follow the lead of Philadelphia in bringing back mask mandates to stop the spread of the virus.

Philadelphia health officials announced Monday that the city would re-introduce its indoor mask mandate beginning on April 18 as a result of increasing COVID cases. According to officials, the city is reporting 142 new COVID cases per day, a 69% increase over the start of the month, and as a result officials have moved the city to Tier-2 on a four-tier “COVID Response Levels” plan.

Chicago and the state of Illinois are both seeing similar increases, but according to Dr. Amaal Tokars, the acting director of the state Department of Public Health, a return of the mask mandate isn’t expected any time soon.

Read more here.