Flu activity in the Chicago area is rising along with hospital admissions for COVID-19, says a top doctor – NBC Chicago | Tech US News

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Flu-like activity is now high in Illinois, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The transition from a low level of activity last week to a high level this week comes as Cook County joins several other counties with a medium risk of transmission of COVID-19.

“My concern is that when COVID really takes off and when the flu really takes off, it will really continue to increase our hospital capacity,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of Public Health for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

dr. Arwady said the increase in hospital admissions is what pushed Cook County to a medium level of COVID transmission.

UI Health is one of the hospitals that has seen more cases of COVID in the past few weeks.

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a lot more calls from people with COVID,” said Dr. Richard Novak, chief of infectious diseases at UI Health.

Despite this, vaccination rates for the bivalent booster remain low across the country. In Chicago, 13% of those eligible received an updated scan.

“People tend to forget that the goal of a vaccine is not just to prevent infection, but to prevent you from getting seriously ill,” said Dr. Novak.

The bivalent booster was designed to fight the original coronavirus and micron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, but new data from the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that BA.5 currently accounts for only 35% of cases, with other subvariants including BQ growing .1 and BQ.1.1.

“We have all these other omicron sub-variants that keep popping up. When we see many sub-variants emerging, we also know that this generally means more spread of covid,” said Dr. Arwady.

New research published Monday by Moderna shows that its bivalent enhancer creates antibodies against growing strains of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.

“Again, it’s cross-protecting these other omicron variants like BQ.1 and BQ1.1, and there are more (sub-variants) coming and we need as much protection as possible,” said Dr. Novak.

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