#childsafety | CPS Classes Canceled, Complications in Children – NBC Chicago


A debate over remote learning has left classes at Chicago Public Schools canceled Wednesday as teachers and the district continue to battle over safety in school settings.

At the same time, pediatricians are seeing a unique trend in children contracting the omicron variant.

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

Chicago Public Schools, Teachers Remain at Odds as Classes Canceled Thursday

The debate between Chicago Public Schools and the teachers’ union took a significant step forward on Tuesday as educators voted to switch to remote learning, and classes will be canceled for a second consecutive day on Thursday as negotiations continue.

After the CTU vote on Tuesday, CPS announced that classes would be canceled Wednesday, and they will remain out for Thursday after consultation with principals in the district.

“We have no choice but to cancel classes,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said. “We’ve already sent another notice to families. As I had conversations with our principals and said ‘what is the best path forward,’ they came back to me and said, ‘CEO, we got to continue to be the champions, and to advocate for in-person instruction.'”

The decision comes as school officials and teachers continue to spar over COVID safety issues that have been the center of a heated debate for months.

While Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the teachers’ vote to return to remote learning an “illegal work stoppage,” union officials described it as a necessary step to keep teachers and students safe, with the union’s membership feeling unsafe with going back into buildings during a surge in COVID cases.

“Right now, going into schools puts us at risk, puts our students and family at risk of contracting the coronavirus,” union President Jesse Sharkey said. “That’s the simple truth of the matter.”

During a virtual news conference Wednesday, Sharkey suggested that more testing could get his membership back in the classroom more quickly, and pointed to a similar program in Los Angeles schools as a model.

Illinois Sets New Records for COVID Cases, Hospitalizations as Omicron Surge Continues

Illinois set new records in both COVID cases and hospitalizations on Wednesday, with more than 32,000 new cases of the virus and nearly 7,000 COVID-positive individuals now hospitalized across the state.

According to the newest numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state reported 32,279 confirmed and probable cases of the virus Wednesday, setting a new record for single-day COVID cases.

After never reporting more than 21,000 COVID cases in a single-day, the state has now reported more than 30,000 on three separate occasions in the last seven days, according to IDPH data, representing a dramatic surge in new COVID cases.

Illinois health officials also reported another new record-high in terms of hospitalizations on Wednesday, with 6,842 patients now being hospitalized after contracting the virus.

The IDPH database reminds residents that the hospitalization numbers only include patients that currently have been diagnosed with COVID, not patients that are hospitalized specifically because of the virus.

Of those patients, 1,135 are currently in intensive care unit beds, the most the state has reported since Dec. 8, 2020.

Pritzker to Work Remotely After Close Contact With Employee Who Tested Positive for COVID

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will work remotely in coming days after coming into close contact with a state employee who later tested positive for coronavirus, his office said Wednesday.

According to a press release, the close contact occurred Tuesday. Pritzker plans to take meetings virtually through at least Sunday after the contact, officials said.

The governor tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, and is continuing to monitor for any symptoms, officials said. The governor has received both doses of the COVID vaccine and his booster shot.

“With the omicron variant spreading across the state, the governor is taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus,” the press release said.

‘Grim Milestone’: Cook County Records 13K COVID Deaths; 1K Reported in Last 6 Weeks

Cook County has recorded its 13,000th coronavirus death, officials said Wednesday, calling it a “grim milestone” that comes as trailers are once again being deployed to hospitals.

Officials, citing data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, noted that 1,000 deaths were recorded in the last six weeks alone. Previously, it took more than three months for the county to grow from 11,000 deaths to 12,000.

In response, the county’s Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security has started once again deploying trailers to area hospitals “to help decompress their morgues if necessary.”

Read more here.

Pritzker to Work Remotely After Close Contact With Employee Who Tested Positive for COVID

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will work remotely in coming days after coming into close contact with a state employee who later tested positive for coronavirus, his office said Wednesday.

According to a press release, the close contact occurred Tuesday. Pritzker plans to take meetings virtually through at least Sunday after the contact, officials said.

The governor tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, and is continuing to monitor for any symptoms, officials said. The governor has received both doses of the COVID vaccine and his booster shot.

“With the omicron variant spreading across the state, the governor is taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus,” the press release said.

Read more here.

Omicron and Quarantine or Isolation: Do You Need to Test Out? The Latest Guidance

If you test positive for COVID and isolate, do you need to take another test before you can see people again? What if you were exposed but have no symptoms?

It’s a question many are asking as omicron cases surge into the new year following holiday gatherings and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update their quarantine and isolation guidelines.

Here’s what we know so far.

FDA Issues Guidance Amid Throat Swab Debate: ‘Tests Should Be Used as Authorized’

With many patients reporting sore throats in omicron COVID cases, a debate over whether or not to add throat swabs to testing methods has sparked, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned that such advice could be dangerous in some cases.

Federal guidance has not changed on how to test for COVID, and all test kits have specific FDA-approved instructions on how they should be used, but some medical professionals are debating whether adding a throat swab, in addition to nasal swabbing, could lead to more accurate test results.

The FDA noted safety concerns with such advice, particularly for at-home tests.

“The FDA advises that COVID-19 tests should be used as authorized, including following their instructions for use regarding obtaining the sample for testing,” the agency said in a statement provided to NBC 5 Wednesday.

Read more here.

Chicago Travel Advisory Updated to Include Every US State, Territory

With the new year now underway, Chicago updated its travel advisory overnight to include every U.S. state and territory, prompting city health officials to urge anyone looking to travel right now to reconsider their plans.

Last week, Montana and Guam remained the only locations not on the city’s warning list.

“COVID is very real, it’s merciless, and unless you are fully vaccinated, your defenses against it are pretty low,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “You can only fully fight this virus if you’re vaccinated. The evidence is overwhelming – if you are fully vaccinated and you do get COVID-19, there’s very little chance you will get so ill that you require hospitalization. Your chances aren’t nearly as good if you remain unvaccinated. Unvaccinated and vaccinated travelers alike should consider if their travel plans are necessary at this time.”  

Read more here.

A couple of factors are at play, starting with the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant. Omicron is more likely to infect people, even if it doesn’t make them very sick, and its surge coincided with the holiday travel season in many places.

CTU Votes in Favor of Return to Remote-Learning; CPS Cancels Wednesday Classes

The rank-and-file members of the Chicago Teachers Union have voted to temporarily transition to remote learning, a move that prompted Chicago Public Schools officials to cancel classes for Wednesday.

While CTU instructed its members to work remotely Wednesday, CPS has said that it will not accept the switch back to remote learning, and instead canceled all classes, sporting events and extracurricular activities scheduled for Wednesday.

Food service will still be available at schools between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., and COVID testing and vaccination events will continue as scheduled, according to a CPS press release.

Here’s the latest.

Will CTU teachers vote to return to remote learning, and will CPS follow through with their statements that they will cancel classes if they do? NBC 5’s Charlie Wojciechowski has the latest.

Illinois to Follow CDC Guidance Shortening Waiting Period for Pfizer COVID Shot Boosters

The state of Illinois says that it will adopt new CDC guidance on the administration of Pfizer COVID vaccine booster shots, shortening the amount of time between the second dose of the treatment and the follow-up injection.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, residents who received two doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine will now be eligible to receive a booster shot five months after the date of their second shot. Those residents will be able to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna booster, according to officials.

The CDC is also recommending that children between the ages of 5 and 11 that are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get a third dose of the COVID vaccine 28 days after their second dose.

Read more here.

Omicron Variant Causing Unique Complications In Children, Pediatricians Say

Pediatricians are seeing a unique trend in children contracting the omicron variant of COVID-19, saying it could be behind a recent spike in hospital visits as young kids suffer complications from the variant.

Dr. Latania Logan, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at RUSH University Medical Center, says narrow airways in children under 5 years of age make it easier for germs to sit where the omicron variant replicates.

This can lead to other infections like bronchiolitis, and can lead to other respiratory issues.

Read more here.

How Long After COVID Exposure Could You Test Positive?

How long could it take for someone to test positive for COVID following an exposure to someone who had the virus?

It’s a question many are asking following holiday gatherings amid surging omicron variant cases.

Testing demand continues to soar as the new year gets underway and some experts say the omicron variant has “sped up” timing for what many have come to know with COVID.

Here’s what we know so far.

Chicago’s Top Doc Says Nearly 1-in-4 Reported COVID Tests Coming Back Positive in City

Nearly one-in-four reported COVID tests in the city of Chicago are coming back with positive results, continuing a rapid increase in positivity rates in the city.

According to the latest information from the Chicago Department of Public Health, the city’s positivity rate as of Dec. 30, the last date for which data is available for due to lag time and other factors, stands at 23.6%, the highest rate reported since May 7, 2020.

That number represents a rapid increase in the city’s positivity rate in the last month. On Dec. 7, the positivity rate in the city stood at 3.9%, and since that date it has increased every day, according to officials.

Read more here.

Should Chicagoans Double-Mask During Omicron Surge? City’s Top Doc Weighs In

As the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly across the United States, Chicago’s top doctor was asked whether it was necessary for city residents to double-mask to help avoid infection.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that while double-masking is a good way to provide “excellent protection” to residents, it is equally important to have a mask that fits correctly.

“If you’ve got gaps, you can have droplets leaking out. We’ve been recommending wearing one of the surgical masks with a cloth mask over it,” she said. “That’s a good way to have excellent protection. If you’re wearing KN95 and the KN94’s, go for it.

Read more here.

When Will Omicron Peak? Chicago’s Top Doctor Shares Her Predictions

As omicron COVID cases continue to surge in Chicago and Illinois, bringing case levels to their highest of the entire pandemic, many are wondering when a peak will be reached.

Chicago’s top doctor offered her predictions based on data from around the globe Tuesday, but said, in short, “we don’t know when omicron is going to peak.”

“I’ve been talking to the modelers and the epidemiologists,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a press conference Tuesday. “So in South Africa, which was the first place to really detect and see this huge surge of omicron, it took about four weeks for omicron to peak and then another couple of weeks for it to really come back down.”

But, she noted, South Africa differs from many countries now experiencing the surge “in a number of ways, including high rates of infection, differing rates of vaccination, a much younger population with a median age under 30.”

Read more on her predictions.

When Could Omicron Symptoms Start After COVID Exposure?

The omicron variant has changed some of what many came to know about the coronavirus and how it spreads, but now with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some are wondering when they are most contagious and for how long after contracting the virus?

As cases of the coronavirus surge with the new omicron variant continuing to spread following the holidays, your chances of being exposed to someone with the virus have likely increased. But when might symptoms first appear following a potential exposure?

Some experts say the omicron variant has “sped up” timing for what many have come to know with COVID, including the incubation period, or the time between exposure and the start of symptoms.

“As we’ve seen these new variants develop – delta, now omicron – what we’re seeing is everything gets sped up from a COVID perspective,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday. “It is taking less time from when someone is exposed to COVID to potentially develop infection. It is taking less time to develop symptoms, it is taking less time that someone may be infectious and it is, for many people, taking less time to recover. A lot of that is because many more people are vaccinated.”

Here’s what we know so far.

When is the Best Time to Get Tested After COVID Exposure?

Testing demand continues to soar as the new year gets underway, but as many navigate new guidelines following holiday gatherings, when is the best time to get tested for COVID if you’ve been exposed?

Some experts say the omicron variant has “sped up” timing for what many have come to know with COVID.

Here’s what we know so far.

Sore Throat? Runny Nose? The Common Omicron Symptoms to Know About

Breakthrough infections of the coronavirus are increasing in Chicago and Illinois, but health experts say it’s likely that the symptoms you experience will depend on the vaccine.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s top doctor, said the omicron variant isn’t necessarily bringing with it a new set of symptoms, but with vaccines now widely available, many are experiencing milder cases, depending on their vaccination status.

“The symptoms that we’re seeing are not different with omicron than they were with delta, than they were with the original. It’s just that we are seeing more what we call breakthrough infections,” Arwady said Wednesday. “So the vaccines continue to protect, but not as well against infection, although they continue to protect beautifully against severe illness.”

Read more here.



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