Health

 

Please note:  COVID-19 testing at the ten Community-based testing sites has ended. Locations in and near Des Plaines where you can get tested include:

  • Holy Family Plaza Pharmacy, Des Plaines. 1400 E. Golf Rd., #101. Call:  847-296-1400.  10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Patients should make an appointment and upload all required documents. Without insurance, cost is $25 for rapid response test, $125 for PCR.
  • Advocate Medical Group Immediate Care Center, Des Plaines, 77 W. Rand Rd. (near Rand and Central roads). Walk in if have symptoms. If asymptomatic, make an appointment. 847-298-0310. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Friday. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday & Sunday. 
  • Flick Park Field House, 3600 Glenview Rd., Glenview. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. By appointment only. 
  • NorthShore Immediate Care, 1535 Ellinwood St., Des Plaines (just east of the library at Ellinwood and Pearson). Walk-in. Call before coming:  224-364-2273. Need not be a NorthShore University HealthSystem patient. Symptoms or not, can go to any NorthShore location for a test. On Ellinwood: 9 a.m.-6:45 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
  • Walgreens, 1378 Miner St., Des Plaines. Call:  847-296-3958. Appointments must be made online: walgreens.com/covid19testing  
  • Northwest Community Healthcare, Mount Prospect Immediate Care Center, 199 W. Rand Rd. Appointments required. Call:  847-618-5400.
  • Physicians Immediate Care, 123 S. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge. Call:  224-585-7000.  8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Other locations in this area.
  • CVS, 2648 Dempster St., Park Ridge. By appointment only. cvs.com. Call:  847-298-2802.
  • Arlington Heights Health Center (part of Cook County Health), 3250 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights. Drive-up testing in parking lot. To make an appointment, call:  312-864-2749. 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
  • Meijer, 1301 Meijer Dr., Rolling Meadows. Appointment required. 
  • Chicago--Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave. (part of University of Illinois SHIELD saliva test sites, partnering with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)). Open to all, symptoms or not. Appointments not required. But to make one, use agency code df5brbrj. At Northeastern: 9 a.m.-12noon Monday & Wednesday, 2-5 p.m. Tuesday & Thursday.

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In the news... If you've been feeling like more people you know are testing positive for COVID-19, you are not alone. The most recent upswing in new cases in the United States continues.

courtesy CDC

Moreover the U.S. is very close to a most sobering milestone--1 million deaths from COVID-19--according to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics posted Tuesday.

In more positive pandemic news. the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Tuesday authorized a single booster dose to children 5 through 11 years old, at least five months after receiving the initial two-shot series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Also Tuesday, the administration of President Joe Biden announced U.S. households now can request eight more free at-home tests at COVIDTests.gov. In effect, this site now is open for a third round of ordering.

Recent COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

  - Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

Due to a blood clot risk, the FDA has limited use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine as a last resort for adults who cannot get a shot from another manufacturer.

The FDA is restricting the use of the J&J vaccine to individuals 18 and older who are medically ineligible for another approvied vaccine and only have access to this particular one. FDA and CDC researchers found the J&J vaccine resulted in 60 confirmed cases of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which leads to rare but potentially life-threatening blood clots one to two weeks after receiving the shot.

  - Moderna

The company announced in late April it has asked the FDA to approve a low-dose version of its vaccine for children under 5 years old. If authorized, this would be the first vaccine approved for this age group.

Is it Really that Many?

The majority of Americans, including most children, have been infected with COVID-19, the CDC reported recently. Because so many caught it during the winter as a result of the very contagious Omicron variant, nearly 60 percent of everyone in the U.S. now have antibodies to the coronavirus in their blood

Drug Overdose Deaths

Also sobering is the number of Americans who have lost their lives to a drug overdose. New data show overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S. increased from an estimated 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021, the CDC reported last week.

Provisional data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics point to an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. during 2021, an increase of nearly 15 percent from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020.

Back to Covid:  Will Mask Mandates Return?

The CDC continues to recommend that everyone age 2 and older in indoor areas of public transportation such as airplanes and trains, and transportation hubs, wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over the nose and mouth. This after a federal court order ended the CDC's January 29, 2021 directive requiring masks on public transit.

Doing so "is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated locations, such as airport jetways," the CDC said in a May 3 statement. Effective February 28, in compliance with an order from Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois went mask optional. Many people have shed their face coverings. Others continue to wear one.

Are you worried you willl get stuck with a substandard mask? Go to Project N95, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping consumers obtain legitimate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Remdesivir for Young Children

The FDA has OK'd expanded use of COVID-19 treatment Veklury (remdesivir) to infants at least 28 days old and weighing about 7 pounds who have tested positive for the disease. This applies to both hospitalized patients or those not hospitalized but with mild to moderate disease who are at high risk for severe COVID-19, hospitalization or death.

This decision makes Veklury the first approved COVID-19 treatment for children under 12. Previously it was approved only to treat certain adults and young patients (12 years and older who weigh at least 88 pounds), who have COVID-19.

Greater Distribution of Paxlovid

In an effort to expand access of antiviral pill Paxlovid, which substantially reduces the risk of COVID hospitalization, Biden announced recently this drug will be going to more pharmacies. Authorized for use in December, Paxlovid is designed to prevent patients 12 years and older with positive infections from getting worse.

On Sunday, National Public Radio (NPR) aired an interview with epidemiologist Jessica Malaty Rivera regarding the current surge in new COVID-19 cases, and about the role of Paxlovid. 

Rivera said Paxlovid has been "a remarkable drug," also pointing out its disappointing rollout. She said she has heard anecdotally that many medical doctors are hesitant to prescribe it.

"That's partially because there hasn't been a lot of training on the drug," Rivera said. "There's been a lot of concerns over the long list of contraindications, and people are kind of erring on the side of almost too much caution."

Update on Coronavirus Variants

It is in the nature of viruses to change or mutate. Sometimes these mutations result in a new variant. Some variants emerge and disappear, while others continue. New variants will keep developing.

The Omicron variant spreads more quickly than other variants. Omicron and its subvariants are considered Variants of Concern (VOC). They are:

  • B.1.1.529
  • BA.1
  • BA.1.1
  • BA.2
  • BA.3
  • BA.4
  • BA.5

In late 2020, the emergence of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health prompted the identification of specific Variants of Interest (VOIs) and VOCs. 

Almost six months after Omicron was identified in South Africa, two of its subvariants once again are leading a surge in COVID-19 cases there, Nature reported on May 6, 2022. Nature also said several studies released in the past week show BA.4 and BA.5 are a little more transmissable than earlier versions of Omicron, and can block some of the immune protection resulting from previous infection and vaccination.

Vulnerable Populations

As the CDC continues to note, older American adults are at highest risk of falling very ill because of COVID-19. More than 81 percent of COVID-related deaths occur in those over 65 years of age. The number of deaths among people over 65 is 97 times higher than among people 18-29 years old.

An individual's risk of severe COVID-19 rises commensurate with an increase in the number of his or her medical conditions. 

Additionally, some people are at increased risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 because of where they live or work or because they cannot get health care. This includes many from racial and ethnic minoity groups as well as the disabled.

New Breath-Related Test

The FDA recently granted emergency approval to the first COVID-19 test using breath samples. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer. It detects chemical compounds in breath samples associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection, the FDA said, with results in less than three minutes.

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer uses gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) to separate and identify chemical mixtures and quickly detect five volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with SARS-CoV-2 in exhaled breath. This test was valildated in a large study of more than 2,400 individuals, including those with and without symptoms.

This test is performed using an instrument about the size of one piece of carry-on luggage. INspectIR expects to produce about 100 of these instruments a week, which can each be used to evaluate approximately 160 samples per day.

About Long COVID-19/Post-COVID Conditions

For some individuals who have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, there really may be no end to the disease. Those with long COVID can be subject to long-term effects from their infection, also known as Post-COVID-19 (PCC). PCC conditions can feature a wide array of ongoing health problems.

Unvaccinated people who acquired COVID-19 may be at greater risk of long COVID in comparison to those who were vaccinated and experienced breakthrough infections.

COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Friday, May 13, announced 40,026 new cases. That was nearly 9,400 more than that reported on Friday, May 6 (30,633). On Friday, April 29, IDPH announced 24,646 new cases.

Second Booster Shot 

People 50 and older, as well as certain immunocomprised individuals, can receive a second booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, under FDA authorization announced recently. When? At least four months after getting the first booster dose of any approved COVID-19 vaccine. Those with compromised immune systems must be at least 12 years old for a second Pfizer-BioNTech booster, and at least 18 for Moderna.

Approval of this second booster--or fourth shot of vaccine--came as the rapidly-spreading BA.2 continued to pounce on the world. It continues to wreak havoc in China and also has done considerable damage in Europe, including the U.K.

Additionally, adults who received Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)--a primary shot and booster dose--at least four months ago, now can get a second booster of an mRNA vaccine. In other words, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. 

More on Travel

The CDC announced that starting April 18, a retooled plan would go into effect on how travelers are alerted to health threats around the world and offers advice on how they can protect themselves before, during and after travel.

The CDC's update of its Travel Health Notice system for international destinations will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances. These include quickly escalating case trajectory, extremely high case counts or emergence of a new variant of concern. 

Updated CDC Guidance On Quarantine, Isolation

Updated details about when and how to quarantine with respect to COVID-19 were posted recently on the CDC website..

Can't Find Your Vaccination Card?

If you have lost or misplaced your vaccination card, a program called Vax Verify can help. Go to cookcountypublichealth.org/ufaq/how-can-i-get-a-copy-of-my-vaccination-card.

Doubtful About Getting Vaccinated?

Still not sure about getting vaccinated? Take a look at getvaccineanswers.org. And/or IDPH.

Cook County Vaccination Program Hotline: 833-308-1988

Other Locations In or Near Des Plaines for COVID-19 Vaccine for Ages 5 and Up 

By appointment or walk-in:

-- CCH Arlington Heights Health Center (3250 N. Arlington Heights Blvd., Arlington Heights). Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Make an Appointment

Jewel-Osco 1500 Lee St., Des Plaines  Phone: 847-296-7786

Walgreens 1378 Miner St., Des Plaines  847-296-3958

Pharmacies near Des Plaines

Wal-Mart (930 Mount Prospect Plaza, Mount Prospect)  Phone: 847-590-0011

Meijer, Rolling Meadows  847-690-1500

CVS (2648 Dempster St., Park Ridge)  847-298-2802

In Other COVID-19-Related News...

Latest Totals on COVID-19 Vaccinations

On May 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 11 655 356 423 doses of vaccine had been administered globally.

Domestically, vaccinations continue to increase at a slow but steady pace. The CDC posted Saturday that 220.7 million people in the U.S. now are fully vaccinated. The 2020 Census shows a resident population of more than 331.4 million, a hike of 7.4 percent over the 2010 Census.

Vaccination numbers in Illinois, too, continue to rise slowly but steadily. More than 22 million doses of vaccine have been given, IDPH reported Friday.

More on How to Sign Up for Vaccine

Suburban Chicago residents can go to vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or again, phone (833) 308-1988, the county's vaccine enrollment help line. 

Local Vaccination Sites

A portal on the state's coronavirus website (coronavirus.illinois.gov) lists vaccination locations. You also can go to the following sites to try to make an appointment:

Mental Health/Medical Help

Call4Calm connects you to a mental health professional. It's free and anonymous. For English, text talk to 552020. For Spanish, text hablar to 552020.

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), North Suburban Cook County office:  847-716-2252

You also can contact the Illinois Mental Health Collaborative. Call:  866-359-7953. 

To get help for substance abuse, call:  833-2findhelp.  Or, go to:  helplineil.org

For those with COVID-19 symptoms who don't require in-patient care, there is daily telehealth monitoring. Northern Illinois:  866-443-2584... Central Illinois and Rockford:  833-673-5669...Southern and west central Illinois (+ Metro East):  217-545-5100.

Daily COVID-19 cases and deaths

Illinois, IDPH, as of May 13, 2022:  3,209,341 total cases. 33,705 deaths. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 12, 909 individuals were reported hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 87 patients were in the intensive care unit (ICU), and 25 were on ventilators. (All represent an increase from the previous Friday.)

U.S. (since January 21, 2020), as of May 13, 2022:  CDC:  82,196,077 total cases (100,828 new cases). 996653 total deaths (257 new deaths).

Globally as of May 13, 2022:  WHO:  517,648,631 confirmed cases and 6,261,708 confirmed deaths.

See the following sites for additional information about COVID-19 and how to deal with this public health crisis: 

-- World Health Organization (WHO)

 -- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 -- New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

 -- Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)

 -- Cook County Department of Public Health

 -- Johns Hopkins University of Medicine

The death toll in Illinois due to vaping remains at five, according to IDPH.      

Help try to prevent suicides. Options include:

 -- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 (24/7)

 -- What can you do? The National Institute of Mental Health has details.  

 -- Veterans Crisis Hotline:  1-800-273-8255

Find out about the opioid crisis.

Considering a career in health? Take a look at Oakton Community College.

Oakton also has Continuing Education for Health Professionals (CEHP).,