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How Contagious is New Variant, What to Know – NBC Chicago

Why is the new XBB.1.5 variant, also known as the “kraken” variant considered even more contagious?

Turns out it could be all due to a new mutation.

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

XBB.1.5, ‘Kraken’: Why is New COVID Variant So Contagious? What to Know as It Rises in Midwest

The new COVID variant XBB.1.5, also known unofficially as the “kraken” variant, continued to rise in the Midwest, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but what makes the new variant so contagious and are experts expecting a surge?

The CDC has changed its estimates for how prevalent the agency believes XBB.1.5 is in the U.S. late last week, now saying the variant makes up just 27.6% cases, down from the roughly 40% of cases being reported. That would make it no longer dominant in the country, though it continues to make up a majority of cases in the Northeast, with the variant believed to be responsible for more than 70% of COVID infections.

Read more here.

Are Symptoms of the ‘Kraken’ Variant Different From Other COVID Strains? Here’s What Doctors Say

A highly contagious “recombinant” variant composed of two different BA.2 strains, the “kraken” variant has quickly become the dominant form of COVID in the U.S. and is continuing to spread nationwide.

Also known as XBB.1.5, the variant quickly rose to prominence as experts say it is more contagious than many of its predecessors.

Read more here.

CPS Asks Students, Staff to “Please Test For COVID Before Returning to School” Monday

As Chicago Public Schools resumes Monday following winter break, administrators are bracing a possible surge in COVID cases by asking students and staff to “please test for COVID-19 before returning school,” a message posted to CPS’ website says.

“In order to keep our school communities safe, please test for COVID-19 before returning to school,” a post titled “Important Note For Families Regarding Winter Break” reads.

Read more here.

New XBB.1.5 Variant, Return to School Fuel Worries About Post-Holiday COVID Spike

Concerns have emerged about the possibility of a post-holiday COVID surge fueled by a new variant, recent large gatherings and the return to the classroom following winter break.

While increases in COVID cases have occurred in other parts of the U.S., weekly case numbers, hospital admissions and weekly deaths declined in recent days across Illinois, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Across the state, 26 counties are at “high” community level status, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more here.

University of Illinois Removes COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing Requirements

The University of Illinois has removed its COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for all students and employees, system President Tim Killeen announced.

“We do, however, strongly recommend that you stay up to date with the most recent vaccine or booster available as a barrier to serious illness,” Killeen said, The News-Gazette reported Friday.

Unvaccinated students and employees on the university’s campuses had been required to keep up a regular testing schedule.

Read more here.

What is the ‘Kraken’ Variant? What We Know About the New COVID Variant So Far

You may have heard about a so-called “kraken” variant circulating right now, but what exactly is it and why is being called that?

The nickname refers to the XBB.1.5 variant, which has quickly become the dominant COVID strain in the U.S.

But why the “kraken” variant?

Read more here.

73 Illinois Counties at ‘High’ COVID-19 Community Level as Cases Climb From Last Week

According to Illinois health officials, 73 of the state’s 102 counties are now at an elevated COVID-19 community level according to CDC data, marking an increase from 65 counties from data released last week.

Of the counties at an elevated level, 28 are at a “high” community level and 45 counties are at a “medium” community level. All of the counties in the Chicago area remain at a “medium” level.

Illinois health officials are reporting 16,281 new probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the week ending on Jan. 1, with 20 additional deaths.

Read more here.

Are Symptoms Changing With New COVID Variant Rising? Here’s What Chicago’s Top Doc Said

The Covid omicron XBB.1.5 variant has nearly doubled in prevalence over the past week and now represents about 41% of new cases in the U.S., according to CDC data.

As a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant quickly gains prevalence locally and nationally, many are wondering if the XBB.1.5 strain presents new symptoms than previous strains of the virus.

While the variant is still presenting symptoms that have been noted to be consistent with COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, Arwady noted that flu-like symptoms are not as prevalent with XBB.1.5, particularly for those who are vaccinated and boosted.

Read more here.

New COVID Variant XBB.1.5: What It Is, Symptoms and What You Should Know

The COVID omicron XBB.1.5 variant is rapidly becoming dominant in the U.S. because it is highly immune evasive and appears more effective at binding to cells than related subvariants, scientists say.

A new COVID variant, marking a fusion between two recent strains that is even more contagious than its predecessors, is beginning to take hold in the U.S., but what exactly is it, how serious is it and what are the symptoms?

Here’s a look at what we know so far and what experts are saying.

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