3rd Round of Free Tests, How Long Can You Test Positive – NBC Chicago

With cases rising nationwide, a new set of COVID test kits will be available for free from the government – and this round offers more than the others.

Plus, if you contract COVID, how long could you test positive for?

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

Illinois COVID Testing: Where to Find Free Rapid, PCR COVID Tests Near You

COVID cases and hospitalizations are continuing to climb in Illinois, with the state now averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day.

It’s the first time in more than three months Illinois has seen the daily rate that high.

The good news is, COVID testing across Chicago and at Illinois remains free at many sites. And, the federal government is now offering residents double the number of free COVID rapid antigen tests during its newest round of kit availability, according to an update by the United States Postal Service.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, or you believe you’ve been exposed, here’s where you can find free COVID testing near you in Chicago and Illinois, for adults and kids.

Government Offers Up to 8 Free COVID Tests Per Household as Cases Rise Nationwide

The federal government is now offering residents double the number of free COVID rapid antigen tests during its newest round of kit availability, according to an update by the United States Postal Service.

Whereas in previous rounds of test distributions residents could only claim up to four per household, residents can now request up to eight of the tests, which will be shipped for free to their residences.

According to the government, each order may contain eight rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. Those tests will come in two separate packages, with four test kits in each package, according to the USPS website.

Here’s how to get yours.

How Long Can You Test Positive for COVID Following Infection?

If you test positive for COVID, how long could that last?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people who contract COVID-19 can have detectable virus for up to three months, but that doesn’t mean they are contagious.

When it comes to testing, however, the PCR tests are more likely to continue picking up the virus following infection.

Read more here.

Illinois COVID Stats: State Averaging More Than 6K Cases Per Day as Hospitalizations Rise

For the first time in more than three months, Illinois is averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, with hospitalizations also beginning to climb across the state.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state is averaging 6,065 new cases of COVID per day over the last week. That marks the first time the state has eclipsed the 6,000-case barrier since Feb. 9, when Illinois was still descending from the heights of its omicron-driven surge over the winter.

In the last seven days, the state’s daily average of new COVID cases has gone up by 17.7%, according to IDPH officials. In the last month, cases have increased by 174%.

On Monday, Illinois officials reported 5,447 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with zero new fatalities reported.

You can find more data here.

FDA Authorizes at-Home Test That Can Help Diagnose COVID, Influenza and RSV

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a first-of-its-kind at-home testing kit that will allow individuals to collect samples and have them tested for a variety of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza.

According to a press release issued Monday, the FDA gave authorization to Labcorp’s “Seasonal Respiratory Virus RT-PCR DTC” test.

Those tests, available without a prescription, can be used by individuals with symptoms of respiratory viral infection, according to the FDA.

The tests allow an individual to self-collect a nasal swab at home, similar to that of an at-home COVID-19 test. Instead of getting the results in the home, those samples can be sent to Labcorp for testing.

The tests can identify and differentiate between a variety of illnesses, including influenza A and B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19, according to the FDA.

Masks Now Required at Evanston Township High School as COVID Cases Rise

An uptick in COVID cases in the city of Evanston has led officials at Evanston Township High School to now require masks for all staff, students and visitors in school buildings — regardless of vaccination status — effective Monday, the school said Sunday.

Previously, masks inside the school were only “highly recommended.”

The updated mask requirement comes three days after the city announced that its community COVID level had increased from ‘medium’ to “high,” the highest level of alert, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more here.

When Are You Contagious With COVID and How Long Should You Quarantine?

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across Chicago and the city’s top doctor said the trend will likely continue in coming weeks, sparking questions from concerned residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city’s positivity rate has soared to nearly 5% in recent weeks, and she expects metrics to continue to rise in the coming days.

Read more here.

Rise in COVID Cases Prompts Emergency Meeting at Oak Park School District

Just days after the Oak Park Health Department unveiled new COVID-19 guidance for schools following an increase in cases, one village school district’s board announced its own actions to help reduce the spread of the virus.

In an emergency meeting Friday, Elementary School District 97 voted to require masks on field trips and for those who attend indoor events inside school buildings, including graduation ceremonies. Schools will also try to move indoor activities outside as much as possible.

Read more here.

Booster Shots, Indoor Masking Encouraged Amid Rising COVID Risk Levels, Health Officials Say

Illinois health officials are encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations, booster shots and masking indoors as cases continue to rise and more counties move into heightened coronavirus risk levels.

As of Friday, 23 counties in Illinois — including Cook, Kane, McHenry, Lake, DuPage, DeKalb, Kendall and Will counties — were all listed under “medium” community alert level for COVID transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Read more here.

Low, Medium, High: What CDC’s Community Levels Mean and What’s Required in Each

With nearly every Chicago-area county having reached the “medium community level” for COVID-19 and one Chicago suburb reaching “high” transmission levels, per guidance set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what does that mean for you?

So what does that mean and what does it take to reach each level?

Here’s a look at the guidelines.

Evanston Now at ‘High’ Community COVID Risk Level Due to Rising Cases, City Says

Based on the rising number of new COVID cases reported in the last seven days, the city of Evanston said Thursday its community COVID risk level has increased from ‘medium’ to ‘high,’ the highest level of alert, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

City metrics show 397 new COVID cases were reported in Evanston over a seven day period, compared to 305 the week prior.

According to local health officials, once Evanston reaches more 200 new COVID cases per 100,000 people over a week time frame, community level transitions to high.

Read more here.

Can COVID Cause Hair Loss? Here’s What We Know

Can a COVID-19 infection cause hair loss?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, many people reported that their hair was falling out in large clumps months after recovering from the coronavirus.

However, doctors who studied the side effects of COVID said hair loss might not be as surprising as some think. Here’s why.

Tested Positive for COVID and Looking for Treatment Options? Here’s What to Know About Pfizer’s Antiviral Pill

As more test positive for the coronavirus across the Chicago area, many are turning to questions about treating the virus with the new antiviral COVID-19 pill.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill has been used in several recent high-profile cases, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

But as more doctors prescribe Pfizer’s powerful COVID pill, new questions are emerging about its performance, including why a small number of patients appear to relapse after taking the drug.

Here’s what we know so far.

COVID Incubation Period: How Long Should You Quarantine and When Are You Contagious?

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise across Chicago and the city’s top doctor said the trend will likely continue in coming weeks, sparking questions from concerned residents.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city’s positivity rate has soared to nearly 5% in recent weeks, and she expects metrics to continue to rise in the coming days.

“In this wave…it’s likely that we’ll have even more cases before we see it turn around,” she said. “And the last thing we want to do is to have people really see the hospitalization numbers going up significantly.”

For those who contract COVID, there may be lingering questions. Here’s the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC COVID Guidelines 2022: Symptoms to Watch for, How Long to Quarantine and More

With new, more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading across the US and nearly all of the Chicago area rising to a higher alert level, many are wondering what to do if they experience symptoms or test positive for the virus.

If you were exposed, when could symptoms start, how long are you contagious, how long should you quarantine for and when is the best time test?

Read more here.

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