While several Illinois counties remain under Community Elevated Level for COVID, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which locations are seeing the highest rates?
According to Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, southern Illinois is “rising” right now.
“Chicago continues to have rates that are below the national rate and the Illinois rate,” Arwady said. “Southern Illinois is picking up a little bit more right now … and then Louisiana is where we’re seeing a major outbreak right now.”
According to the CDC, 58 counties in Illinois now have it “high” community level. for COVID, including many of the counties in the Chicago metro area. However, almost all of southern Illinois was also included in the “high” alert level.
Franklin County reported more than 20 COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 residents and more than 428 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week. Several surrounding counties are also seeing upward trends in these metrics, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Even so, rates remain well below those seen earlier this year during the initial omicron surge.
The so-called surge comes as the omicron BA.5 subvariant, considered the most contagious and transmissible COVID variant to date, continues to dominate cases across the state and country.
According to the latest estimates released by the CDC on Tuesday, the BA.5 subvariant, which has been the dominant strain of COVID in the United States since early July, now accounts for 85.5 percent of cases nationwide.
This represents a slight increase from a week ago, with BA.4 and BA.2.12.1 slowly declining as a result.
In the Midwest, BA.5 accounts for an even larger share of cases, accounting for 86.6% of all COVID infections, according to CDC estimates.
The BA.5 subvariant has caused some concern among health officials, as it has shown an increased ability to evade immunity gained from previous COVID infections and from COVID vaccinations.
As a result, pharmaceutical companies have begun formulating booster injections to better combat the new omicron subvariants, and these injections are expected to begin making their way into weapons later this year.
“I would say that one very small piece of good news is that we haven’t seen a new variant emerge that clearly outperforms it [BA.5]” Arwady said. “You know, every week when we look, you might find individual cases of something a little different. We worry about them if they start competing outside or if they become more serious.”