RECAP: health officials address COVID holiday concerns

News

The news conference wrapped up at 2:36 p.m. The updates below move from most recent to least recent.

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Healy: “The booster is imperative. For a gathering on Friday or Saturday, now is the time to get your booster.”

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Smith: The omicron variant will circulate quickly among the unvaccinated.

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Pryde: test as close to your gathering as possible. It’s doable to test two to three days ahead of your event as long as you take precautions after that.

Pryde: the omicron variant has not reached Champaign County, but “it’s coming.”

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McCarter: OSF looks at staffing levels every four hours. Some vaccinated employees have come down with COVID.

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Julie Pryde, Administrator, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District: Nothing has changed in guidance for holiday gatherings. If you are not vaccinated, going to a holiday gathering risks hospitalization and death. For those who are vaccinated, get rapid COVID tests and test before the gathering. If you can’t do rapid tests, tell guests not to come to the gathering if they have COVID symptoms. Sit with your immediate household members. Open a door or window to ventilate. Choose a large venue in order to distance. Test after the event.

“There are finite resources. We are stretched thin. When [the] omicron [variant] gets here, it will be a tsunami.”

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Deb McCarter, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center: There are 279 COVID patients across OSF’s 15 hospitals. Most are unvaccinated. Visitor restrictions remain. Two support people are allowed per patient with one allowed in the patient’s room.

“It’s been very a very difficult and challenging year for staffing.”

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Michelle Antonacci, Director of Clinical Services, Christie Clinic: “Vaccines are safe.”

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Becky Smith, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, University of Illinois: Smith explained how viruses mutate and how less infections will mean less mutations. Smith said the COVID booster shot creates a “broader range of antibodies” to control the virus. Aside from vaccines, Smith urged avoiding large gatherings for the holidays.

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Carle’s Chief Quality Officer Dr. Robert Healy: Carle is seeing surge of COVID patients that it didn’t see a year ago. There are 100 COVID patients at Carle’s Urbana hospital. Healy referred to hospital capacity as “stretched.”

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Champaign County health officials on Monday afternoon will hold a virtual news conference to address COVID concerns during the holiday travel season. Representatives from Carle, OSF, the University of Illinois, Christie Clinic, and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will speak.

Keep checking this page for live updates.

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