COVID-19 UPDATE: 400 Million Free N95 Masks; Still Only 49 ICU Beds in Region 8; 160 Illinois Deaths Wednesday

COVID-19 UPDATE: 400 Million Free N95 Masks; Still Only 49 ICU Beds in Region 8; 160 Illinois Deaths Wednesday



OVERVIEW: 400 Million Free N95 Masks; Health Care Worker Shortage; Vax For Children Under 5 Could Come By February

The U.S. government will start shipping 400 million free non-surgical N95 face masks to distribution sites nationwide this week as part of efforts to fight the surging omicron COVID-19 variant, according to a White House official. Americans will be able to pick up their masks at one of “tens of thousands” of pharmacies, thousands of community centers and other locations across the country, beginning late next week.

Health care workers in 24 U.S. states must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by March 15 after a Supreme Court decision last week, a ruling that has left some already understaffed hospital systems bracing to possibly lose workers just as the highly contagious Omicron variant is inundating them with patients, the New York Times reports.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday he hopes a COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 5 is available within a month, but it may take longer, CNN reports. Kids under 5 are the only group for whom the FDA has not approved a COVID-19 vaccine. Those 5 and older are eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

After a soft launch Tuesday, the White House’s long-awaited website for ordering free COVID-19 rapid tests is officially live. The new page,, arrives amid a shortage of rapid tests and a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant.


KANE COUNTY: 861 New Cases, 3 Deaths; Test Positivity 19%

Kane County recorded 861 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths today, according to data posted on the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

Since the pandemic began, Kane County has recorded 108,243 positive cases. According to IDPH data, 992 Kane County residents have died as a results of COVID-19 infection.

Kane County’s seven-day test positivity rolling average is at 19% — unchanged from yesterday’s average and significantly higher than other parts of the state as well as neighboring DuPage County, where the seven-day average is 15.7%.


STATE OF ILLINOIS: 27,491 New Cases, 160 Deaths; Region 8 Test Positivity Continues Decline

The state of Illinois recorded 27,491 new COVID-19 cases and 160 additional deaths today.

The statewide totals to date are 2,709,474 positive cases and 29,510 deaths due to COVID-19.

The seven-day test positivity rate for Kane-DuPage Region 8 is 16.9%. That rate has been steadily dropping since at least Jan. 7.

ICU bed availability in Region 8 actually dropped today. Today’s IDPH data shows 49 ICU beds available in Region 8; yesterday, 52 beds were available out of 323 beds in Kane County and DuPage County hospitals.

The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 patients in Region 8 is 789. That number rose by five today after two days of decline.


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