The Perfect Enemy | As Illinois’ COVID-19 Cases Climb, Officials Issue Safety Guidance for Thanksgiving
October 30, 2023

Illinois health officials reported 14,388 new COVID-19 cases since Nov. 16, along with 59 additional deaths over the past seven days.

The metrics are reflective of a slight increase, as the state saw 13,659 new COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths in the previous week.

Officials also noted 21 counties stand at an elevated level of virus transmission, with Winnebago County as the only area with a high alert status, since Nov. 18.

At a “high” level of transmission, masking is recommended for all in indoor public spaces. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for counties at “medium” risk level, the elderly and immunocompromised are recommended to wear a mask in indoor public places and receive COVID vaccinations and booster shots, if eligible.

COVID-19 isn’t the only ailment on the rise, though. Officials reported that RSV and the flu are continuing to cause illnesses and drive hospitalizations.

With Thanksgiving approaching, officials are urging the public to remain cautious of the respiratory illnesses, as well as food-borne sicknesses that may spread at holiday gatherings.

On top of being fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 and the flu, officials are encouraging the public to get tested before attending events, especially if someone there may be at a high risk for severe COVID-19. One tip that can make a huge difference in transmission and infection is ensuring gatherings are well ventilated. Other recommendations include staying home when feeling sick and practicing good hand hygiene.

The CDC also issued guidance for practicing food safety, stating those handling foods should wash their hands and cooking materials, from cutting boards to countertops, to prevent cross contamination. Foods should not remain at room temperature for more than two hours, the CDC noted.

In all, 3,858,155 cases of coronavirus have occurred in the state since the pandemic began, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths bring Illinois to 35,414 confirmed COVID fatalities.

According to IDPH, the preliminary seven-day statewide case rate is 113 COVID cases per 100,000 Illinois residents, a slight increase from the 107 cases per 100,000 residents reported a week prior.

As of Tuesday night, 1,112 patients were hospitalized due to COVID in the state, up from last week’s 1,070 patients. Of the current patients, 112 are in ICU beds, and 41 are on ventilators.

A total of 25,244,887 vaccine doses have been given in Illinois since vaccinations began in December 2020. More than 70% of Illinois residents are fully vaccinated against COVID, with more than 78% receiving at least one dose. More than 14% have received their bivalent booster shots.