As hospitalizations for COVID-19 dip, all suburban counties at low risk levels

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 dropped by 18% as new cases rose by a fraction, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday.

So far the highly contagious “Kraken” variant of COVID-19, officially called XBB.1.5, represents about 16% of new cases in Illinois in contrast with 8% two weeks ago on Jan. 13.

“We are seeing a gradual increase in the rate of the XBB.1.5 'Kraken' variant in the Midwest and Illinois,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. “At this moment, it is not leading to an increase in hospitalizations.”

“Concerns remain about this variant, but new data released by the CDC shows that the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster is protective against it — reducing the risk of symptoms by nearly half.

“We ask Illinoisans to remain vigilant and use readily available tools like vaccines and antiviral treatments to avoid hospitalizations and protect the most vulnerable,” he said.

There are no Illinois counties at a high level of virus transmission and just 20 at a medium level, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. That contrasts with 28 counties at high or medium a week ago.

All counties in the Chicago region are classified as a low risk currently.

Patients in Illinois hospitals as of Thursday came to 999 compared to 1,220 on Jan. 19, the IDPH said.

A total of 10,924 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in the week ending Jan. 22, compared to 10,967 in the week ending Jan. 15, the state reported Friday.

However, 86 people died from the virus in the seven-day stretch through Jan. 22 compared to 78 individuals in the previous period.

Total reported COVID-19 cases statewide stand at 4,019,768, and 36,091 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Officials warn of threat from 'Kraken' variant

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 down by 20%, even as 'Kraken' cases rise

Illinois surpasses 36,000 COVID-19 deaths

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