Free N95 masks are now expected to be offered at a number of major pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS to end the workweek.

It comes as Chicago launches new COVID testing sites for residents.

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

A couple hospitalized with COVID spend their last moments hand in hand

After spending 64 years together, David and Sondra Zorn were able to spend their final moments hospitalized with COVID-19 hand in hand.

David, 89, and Sondra, 83, died within days of each other earlier this month after being taken to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital for complications from coronavirus, the family said.

The couple’s daughter, Deanna Wilkins, said that while the family is devastated by the loss, it is comforting to know that David and Sondra “were put in the same room and held hands in their final moments”.

“It’s a love story; it is a story of commitment; it’s a story of how everyone at the hospital went above and beyond,” Wilkins said.

Read their full story here.

COVID in numbers: new cases and hospitalizations down more than 30% in the last 2 weeks

New COVID cases and hospitalizations continued their recent downward trend on Thursday, with health officials reporting more than 14,000 new cases of the virus.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, a total of 14,422 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide in the past 24 hours.

The state’s daily average of new COVID cases over the past week fell to 21,286 on Thursday, the lowest since Jan. 1. The average number of daily cases, which peaked at 32,501 on January 12, has fallen by 34.5% in that time.

More Illinois COVID data here.

Walgreens and CVS begin offering free N95 masks at select Illinois stores, with more on the way

Walgreens and CVS begin distributing free government N95 masks to area residents Thursday and Friday, while other Illinois stores and pharmacies have already begun.

According to CVS Health, some locations expect to receive mask shipments on Thursday, and more will arrive as supplies become available.

“Inventory is expected to begin arriving at these locations as early as Thursday, January 27, and will continue to arrive as additional supply becomes available,” the company told NBC 5 in a statement. “Masks are limited to three per person, while supplies last, and signs will be posted to indicate availability of N95 masks.”

Learn more here.

Is ‘Stealth Omicron’ a new COVID variant? Here’s what the experts say

While experts around the world are now talking about a so-called “stealth omicron” variant, many are wondering what exactly it is and is it a new COVID variant?

Chicago’s top doctor said the “stealth omicron”, also known as BA.2, is not technically a new variant of COVID and has not yet been classified as a variant of interest or of concern by international authorities. It is actually a subvariant or subtype of the omicron variant.

“It’s still omicron,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday. “It’s just…kind of some letters pointing one versus some letters pointing two. It’s a slight variation in terms of what’s picked up, but I want to be very clear, it doesn’t even yet been classified as a variant of interest…it’s not even a new variant, it’s just considered a slightly different flavor from the core and we’ve seen it before.”

Learn more here.

2 more COVID testing companies under investigation in Illinois

Two Chicago-based COVID-19 testing companies are currently under investigation by the Illinois Department of Health and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

O’Hare Clinical Lab, which has more than 100 testing centers nationwide, is among those being investigated by state agencies after complaints that people received test results. incorrect or delayed tests.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office confirmed that it has received “more than 30 complaints about O’Hare Clinical Lab and is in contact with those consumers for more information.”

Additionally, Northshore Clinical Laboratories is also under investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In a post on its website, Northshore Clinical Labs said it has “terminated all third-party operations of contextual COVID-19 testing sites, while we focus on improving turnaround times and results.” PCR during this time of extraordinarily high demand.”

Learn more here.

Chicago adds new COVID testing sites

In what it says is a “response to the omicron push,” the Chicago Department of Public Health announced Thursday that it recently opened three new community testing sites in partnership with SHIELD Illinois, which performs saliva-based tests. New locations include:

o DePaul University, 333 S State St., Contest Level, 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday

o Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N St Louis Ave., Building E, across from the Welcome Desk (Space previously occupied by the Student Union bookstore), 9am-12pm Mondays and Wednesdays, 2pm-5pm Tuesdays and Thursdays

o Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn St, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

Appointments are required and no walk-in visits are permitted. You can register here and use the agency code: df5brbrj.

How long are you contagious with an Omicron COVID infection? Here’s what we know

As omicron cases continue to spread in Chicago and Illinois, people are wondering how long they will be contagious after contracting COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines last month, shifting the timing of isolation and quarantine because some experts say the time when people are most contagious is earlier.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the CDC’s changes come as “the omicron variant continues to spread in the United States and reflects current science on when and how long a person is most contagious.” “.

So when is a person with COVID most contagious?

Here’s what we know.

‘Stealth Omicron’: What is it, where was it detected and should you be concerned?

A version of the omicron variant dubbed “stealth omicron” is being watched by scientists and health experts around the world as it has been detected in over 40 countries, but what is it and what does it mean- for the pandemic?

This version of the coronavirus, which scientists call BA.2, is widely considered stealthier than the original omicron version because particular genetic traits make it a little harder to detect. Some scientists fear that it is also no longer contagious.

But they say there’s still a lot they don’t know about it, including whether it evades vaccines better or causes more severe disease.

Chicago’s top doctor says the city is “keeping an eye out for” the omicron subtype.

“There is nothing we have seen at this stage that raises a high level of concern, but rest assured that we are monitoring it and will let you know if there is anything of interest or concern,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.

Here’s what we know about “stealth omicron” so far.

Free government COVID tests being sent. Here’s how to get yours

A week after the government launched its new website allowing Americans to get free COVID tests sent to their homes, some who placed advance orders reported deliveries were on the way.

Some on social media said they received their tests in the mail as early as Tuesday while others received email delivery updates saying their orders were due to arrive later this week.

Here’s a breakdown of what to know about testing and how to place your order.

KN95, N95 and more: a look at the different masks and what you need to know about each

KN95, N95, fabric, surgical and more – there are plenty of options for wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

As pharmacies across the country prepare to distribute free N95 masks as part of a new government effort, what do you need to know about the different types of masks and how to use them correctly?

Here is a breakdown.