Health

In the news... Illinois has had the lowest positivity rate of its neighboring states with respect to new COVID-19 cases, and has seen improvement in its own rate of new infections, Governor J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday, September 23, at his press conference on the pandemic.

The death toll in the United States from COVID-19 has officially passed 200,000, according to statistics Wednesday from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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For updates on the pandemic, check:  coronavirus.illinois.gov

Call:  1-800-889-3931, the COVID-19 information hotline, or email:  dph.sick@illinois.gov   To have pandemic updates sent directly to your cell phone, text covid to 312-500-3836.

Get tips on how to prepare for a telehealth session. 

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More on Positivity Rates

There has been a drop in the positivity rate in eight of the state's 11 (public health) regions in the last week alone, Pritzker also said Wednesday at his press conference on COVID-19.

Region 7--Will and Kankakee counties--brought its positivity rate down to an average of 5.7 percent now. Region 4--Metro East, near St. Louis--has reduced its positivity rate to 7.3 percent as of Wednesday. Region 1, in far north central and northwest Illinois, which includes Rockford, is struggling with a rising positivity rate.

Continued Importance of Wearing Face Coverings/Other Precautions

Despite the good news about falling positivity rates, precautions must continue, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). "Keep wearing those masks," she said Wednesday at Pritzker's press conference, along with handwashing and social distancing. Plus, get your flu shot, Ezike added.

Let the CDC tell you how to make a mask.

The City of Des Plaines requires face coverings in public if 6 feet from others cannot be kept. Exceptions include walking or running outside, with social distancing, or driving alone. Also:  wash hands often with soap and warm water (at least 20 seconds). Clean well-used surfaces with disinfectant. Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Youth Sports in Illinois

Pritzker was asked Wednesday if it wasn't time to return to youth football (this fall) given the drop in positivity rates in parts of the state. He replied that youth sports not being played in Fall 2020 are being moved to Spring 2021.

Officials are working hard to keep children safe, Pritzker also said, adding that his main priority is to get them back into the classroom. Illinois is in its third month of Phase 4 (of the five-stage plan to reopen the state).

In a controversial decision last week, Pritzker said there will be no high school football games in Illinois this fall--to do so would be "dangerous." He made his comments the same day the Big Ten Conference reversed itself and declared college football will be played during Fall 2020.

The IDPH has a sports safety guidance page regarding all youth and adult recreational sports. 

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

In case you were not aware, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is already a serious public health problem; it claimed more than 48,000 lives in 2018, according to the CDC. Because of the pandemic, people are dealing with even more anxiety and stress on a daily basis. To learn more about suicide prevention, go to:

Testing

According to IDPH statistics, the preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests for September 16-22 was 3.5 percent, one tenth of a point less than the previous weekly period. Illinois is averaging more than 52,000 tests a day. Within the past 24 hours, more than 46,000 tests were conducted.

In the northwest suburbs, testing at Rolling Meadows High School has been relocated to the Arlington racetrack, 2000 W. Euclid Avenue, Arlington Heights. 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., while daily supplies last. IDPH has a list of testing sites.

Mental Health/Medical Services

To deal with pandemic-induced stress, mental health resources are available:

 -- Call4Calm connects you to a mental health professional. It's free and anonymous. For English, text talk to 552020. For Spanish, text hablar to 552020.

 -- For substance abuse, call:  1-833-2findhelp.  Or, go to:  helplineil.org

 -- For those with COVID-19 symptoms who don't need in-patient care, there is daily telehealth monitoring. Northern Illinois:  1-866-443-2584... Central Illinois and Rockford: 1-833-673-5669...Southern and west central Illinois (+ Metro East):  1-217-545-5100.

Cases by Location

The IDPH site provides a breakdown by zip code and county of those infected. In the zip codes for Des Plaines, 60016 and 60018, the total number of positive cases as of Wednesday was 2,481.

COVID-19 statistics as of Wednesday, September 23:

lllinois, IDPH:   279,114 confirmed cases (1,848 new cases).  8,508 confirmed deaths (22 new deaths). 5,231,607 total tests performed. (Total nucleic acid-based tests performed and reported electronically for testing of COVID-19 at IDPH, commercial or hospital laboratories.) Probable cases: 2,198. Probable deaths: 236.  Recovery rate:  96%. Recovered cases defined as persons with initial positive specimen collection data more than 42 days, who have not died.

As of 11:59 p.m., September 22, IDPH:  1,563 individuals with COVID-19 + persons under investigation (PUI) were hospitalized. Of those, 351 were in the intensive care unit (ICU). 144 of the ICU patients were on ventilators.

Nationwide, as of September 23:  CDC:  6,874,982 total cases (49,285 new cases since September 22).  Total deaths: 200,275 (813 new deaths since September 22).

Globally, as of September 22:  World Health Organization (WHO):  31,425,029 confirmed cases and 967,164 confirmed deaths, in 235 countries, areas or territories with cases.

Visit the following sites for additional information about COVID-19 and how to deal with this public health crisis:

 -- World Health Organization (WHO)

 -- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 -- New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

 -- Illinois Department of Public Health

 -- Cook County Department of Public Health

 -- Johns Hopkins University of Medicine

The death toll in Illinois due to vaping remains at five, according to IDPH.      

Help try to prevent suicides. Options include:

 -- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 (24/7)

 -- What can you do? The National Institute of Mental Health has details.  

 -- Veterans Crisis Hotline:  1-800-273-8255

Here's the latest on the opioid crisis.

Considering a career in health? Oakton Community College's spring information sessions have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact the health career advisor directly.

Oakton also has Continuing Education for Health Professionals (CEHP).