Illinois recommends masks in health care settings as respiratory infections climb – NBC Chicago

Illinois recommends masks in health care settings as respiratory infections climb – NBC Chicago

Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.

In response to an uptick in respiratory infections, the Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday issued guidance urging that masks be worn in certain areas of health care facilities.

Both Illinois and the nation have recently seen a rise in cases of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, flu and RSV as expected, IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a news release. According to the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 1,039 hospitalizations were reported the week ending Nov. 25, marking a 20% increase from the previous week.

Forty-four of Illinois 102 counties, including Kankakee County in the Chicago area, were at an elevated level for hospitalizations, data showed.

As a result of the rise in respiratory illnesses, IDPH is encouraging all health care settings across the state to consider implementing masks in patient care areas, especially if caring for those with weakened immune symptoms, according to the agency. Under CDC recommendations, universal masking should be considered during periods of higher levels of COVID-19 — either facility-wide, for higher risk areas or for certain patient populations.

Even when masks aren’t required by a facility, individuals should continue using a mask or respirator based on personal preference, informed by their perceived level of risk for infection based on their recent activities and potential for developing severe disease, according to the CDC.

It’s unclear if any specific Chicago-area health care facilities have reinstated mask policies due to a rise in respiratory illnesses.

Vohra urged residents to take certain steps to keep their families health and protected, including wearing masks in crowded places, practicing good hand hygiene and getting the COVID, flu and RSV vaccines – if eligible.

“These tools are especially critical for those most at-risk for severe disease including those who are over 65, immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions…” he said, in part. “And parents and caregivers: please also protect those young children given the limited pediatric ICU capacity in many areas of the state.”

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