COVID-19 Surge Easing in Northwest Illinois

February 15, 2021 – The number of new COVID-19 cases in northwest Illinois is down a bit, giving FHN front-line healthcare workers a bit of welcome respite, said FHN President and CEO Mark Gridley, MBA, FACHE, in the latest FHN COVID-19 update video.

Now is not the time, however, to relax the precautions we've all been taking to slow the spread of COVID-19, said FHN Chief Hospitalist and Medical Director of FHN Community Healthcare Center Clarence Parks, MD.

“Flu season runs through June, and the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can be quite similar, including cough, congestion, a sore throat and respiratory distress,” Dr. Parks said. If you are experiencing those symptoms, consult your primary healthcare provider. He or she may order a test for influenza, COVID-19 or even both.

It's not too late to get a flu shot, Dr. Parks said, and he strongly recommends that everyone should get vaccinated for COVID-19 when they can.

FHN is working with area county health departments and the State of Illinois to get enough vaccine to the area and organize vaccination events, Gridley said. The health departments don't control whether they receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, so a choice can't be offered. “It's a very dynamic situation, and the vaccine we administer depends on what is available,” Gridley said.

The majority of FHN staff has received at least their first COVID-19 vaccination, he says, and many have had both doses.

“We don't want people to put off seeing their provider for preventative visits, and of course, you should see your provider if you're not feeling well,” Gridley said. “All of our locations are open and safe to visit, and we are offering our full scope of services.”

Gridley encourages people in the community to take a breath and enjoy the slowdown in the pandemic's spread, but not to relax too much.

“Continue to take precautions “ wash your hands often, watch your distance from people, and wear a mask.” Gridley said. “Let's keep pushing through to reach the finish line.”

This week's video can be viewed at