Coronavirus (COVID-19) Newsletter — December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021  |  View as a webpage  |  Translate

COVID-19 Update

Dear Lake County residents,

We want to wish the Lake County community Happy Holidays and a Happy and Healthy New Year! We know this has been another challenging year, but we want to thank you all for doing your part to keep our community protected.  

Due to the New Year’s holiday, we will not be issuing our COVID-19 newsletter on December 31. We are still committed to sharing any new information if any occurs. Please follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on any new information. 

We hope that anyone celebrating with friends and family stays healthy and protected. Our newsletter will resume on January 7.

Test to Stay MMWR featuring Lake County


Lake County was featured in a recent MMWR on Test to Stay (TTS) Strategy and its implementation.  
The Test to Stay strategy is an option for allowing close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to remain in the classroom as an alternative to home quarantine. While vaccination remains the best path forward for individuals ages 5 and older, Test to Stay allows students to benefit from in-person learning. 
“Children and their parents have been impacted by the different school learning models (remote, hybrid and in person) and other interruptions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister. “The Test to Stay strategy has allowed students and staff to benefit from in-person learning while being protected from COVID-19. This is exciting progress from where we were at the start of the pandemic.” 
For more information on how Test to Stay has been applied throughout Illinois, read the Lake County Health Department press release. Visit the CDC’s MMWR page to learn more about the Test to Stay strategy in Lake County. 

Holiday Facility Closures

HH 2

In observance of the upcoming holidays, Lake County Health Department and Community Health Centers along with the Community-Based Testing Sites will be closed the following days: 

  • Friday, December 24 
  • Monday, December 27 
  • Friday, December 31 

View the Primary Care Services page for locations and operating hours. 

COVID-19 Booster Update

16 and 17 booster

Last week, the CDC aligned with FDA recommendations and has expanded booster recommendations to include 16 and 17-year-olds. At this time, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for this age group. Children ages 16 and 17 are eligible for a booster if they received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.    

More information about COVID-19 boosters can be found on the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot page.    

If you are eligible for a booster, visit to schedule an appointment near you.

COVID-19 Self Tests and When to Use Them

test kit

Self-tests are antigen tests that can be done at home and return results quickly, typically between 15-30 minutes. Rapid antigen tests can also be administered by a healthcare provider or at a pharmacy. 

People may use a self-test:  

  • Prior to attending a holiday gatherings or indoor event. This type of testing before gathering indoors with others can give you information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. 

If a rapid test does come back positive, it means that you likely have a current infection. After a positive self-test result, you should get a PCR test, contact your local health department, and immediately isolate 

A negative self-test test result indicates that you may not be infected and may be at low risk of spreading COVID-19 to others, though it does not rule out an infection. If you have a negative self-test result, but develop symptoms or learn of a direct exposure, you should get a PCR test, contact your local health department, and isolate immediately. 

If you have been asked to get tested due to travel, work, or for school purposes, make sure to confirm what type of testing results (rapid or PCR) an organization will accept. 

More information can be found on the CDC’s Self-Testing page. 

Visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know page for more information.  

Stay Protected While Celebrating the Holidays

holiday travel

We know that the holidays are an important time to connect with family and friends. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19. More ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 when gathering for the holidays can be found on the CDC’s Holiday Celebrations page. 

Recently, international travel requirements changed. As of December 6, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel to the United States. If you plan on traveling this holiday season, please visit the CDC Travel page for important travel information.  

Take steps to stay protected if you are gathering with loved ones. If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, it is best to stay home to avoid the potential of infecting others. For additional travel and gathering considerations to celebrate the holidays safely, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health Holiday Season Guidance page and the CDC’s Holiday Celebrations page. 

Pfizer COVID-19 Oral Antiviral Treatment

On December 14, Pfizer announced the results of their trial, confirming the efficacy of their oral antiviral COVID-19 pill, called Paxlovid. The data confirmed previous reports that the pill reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by approximately 89% when given within a few days of symptom onset. This treatment would be prescribed as an at-home treatment at the first sign of infection to high-risk patients. The pill would be taken twice daily, for five days. 

The results have been submitted to the FDA for review for Emergency Use Authorization. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available. 

Visit Pfizer’s recent study results and Pfizer’s request for authorization for more information. 

Omicron Variant

omicron 2

Health officials are monitoring and studying the most recent COVID-19 variant, Omicron. While we know more than we did when the Omicron variant was discovered in November, there are still unknowns that scientists are studying. We do know that: 

  • The Omicron variant likely spreads more easily that the original strain of COVID-19. 
  • Symptoms from an infection of the Omicron variant seem to be milder, but this is still being monitored.   
  • A combination of mitigation measures including mask wearing, social distancing, hand hygiene and vaccination are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

More information about variants can be found on the CDC page What You Need to Know about Variants. We will continue to update the community as more information on the Omicron variant becomes available.   

More information about the Omicron variant can be found on the CDC page Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know. 

Lake County COVID-19 Data

  • As of December 17, 2021, over 1,077,000 vaccine doses have been administered to Lake County residents and 444,617 residents (63.4% of the population) have been fully vaccinated.
  • Over 97.2% of Lake County seniors ages 65 and older and 77.2% of those age 18-64 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The county is averaging 3,957 doses administered per day on a 7-day rolling average.
  • As of December 17, 2021, 82,504 Lake County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, including 1,129 deaths.

View the Lake County, IL Coronavirus Data Hub 

COVID-19 Testing

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has it, getting tested can help you know what steps to take to keep your loved ones safe. 

Where can I get tested?   

Contact your doctor to ask about testing availability, or check the Lake County Testing Site Locator for options.   

State-run Community-Based Testing Sites located in Waukegan (102 W. Water St.), Arlington Heights (823 Wilke Rd.), and Rockford (1321 Sandy Hollow Rd.)  are open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Testing is free and open to all regardless of symptoms. These sites have drive-through testing, as well as walk-up testing for those who do not have a vehicle or need to use public transportation. Please note, you are not permitted to exit your car to use the walk-up line once you arrive. 

Know Before You Go 

A phone number and name are required in order to receive testing results. Photo identification and proof of insurance are helpful, but not required. High demand for testing may result in long wait times. Testing locations may close early due to inclement weather or if daily testing supplies are exhausted. Additional COVID-19 testing locations and information can be found at the IDPH website. 

If you were recently tested at a mobile COVID-19 testing site and you have not been contacted within 7 days, please call 888-297-7208 or visit 

3 Ws Graphic - Lake County Health Department - English

Who to Contact if You Have Questions

Do you have questions? The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has established a COVID-19 hotline and email address to answer questions from the public:

For additional information from the IDPH, visit:

¿Tiene preguntas? El Departamento de Salud Pública de Illinois (IDPH) ha establecido una línea directa COVID-19 y una dirección de correo electrónico para responder a preguntas del público:

Para informacion adicional de IDPH, visite:

COVID-19 Resources

Lake County AllVax Portal Resources

Visit our AllVax Frequently Asked Questions page to find answers and information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Lake County. Encourage members of the community to register in AllVax utilizing resources from the AllVax Portal Toolkit, including social media messages, guides, print materials, and more. 

Community Guidance and Resources

Protect yourself and your community. Our Community Guidance and Resources page has information to help residents stay safe and informed.

Public Health Navigator Program 

If you or someone you know is struggling with meeting their health and other needs, the Lake County Health Department is here to help! We have two new teams of Case Managers and Community Health Workers dedicated to helping community members access and utilize the resources and support they need, including:      

  • COVID-19 vaccine education and sign-up 
  • Access to medical care    
  • Health education and support    
  • Food and medicine delivery for families in quarantine and isolation    
  • Transportation assistance for medical visits    
  • Access to food support    
  • Rent and utility assistance    
  • Mental health support    
  • Immigration support   
  • And more!   

All services are available regardless of your insurance or immigration status. To get connected, call (847) 3778444 or email 

Get Involved

Join the Medical Reserve Corps

The Lake County Health Department is in need of volunteers with a valid medical license to fill roles as vaccinators, vaccine mixers, and wellness check observers at our mass vaccination sites. Visit our Lake County Medical Reserve Corps page to learn more.

Become a Community Health Ambassador

Community Health Ambassadors play a key role in helping our community members get vaccinated by sharing resources, answering FAQs, and encouraging community members to register on AllVax. Visit the Community Health Ambassador page for more information and to register.

Additional Ways to Help

Visit Lake County Health Departments How You Can Help page to find additional opportunities to donate or volunteer.

Useful Links

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