November 17, 2020
COVID-19 News and Resources
Now Available: Recording of Flu and COVID-19 Webinar

Thank you, Dr. Robert Citronberg, Executive Medical Director of Infectious Disease for Advocate Aurora Health, and Dr. Nkem Iroegbu, Chief Medical Officer of Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, for sharing the most up-to-date information on flu and COVID-19 during a webinar for faith leaders on Nov. 10. A special thanks, also, to Michele Richardson, chair-elect of the Advocate Aurora Health Board of Directors, who facilitated, and to all those who participated and shared their questions.

Click here to view the recorded webinar.
Dr. Nkem Iroegbu
Dr. Robert Citronberg
Michele Richardson
Don’t cancel Thanksgiving. Do cancel your dinner plans.

By: Dr. Robert Citronberg, Executive Medical Director of Infectious Disease and Prevention for Advocate Aurora Health

As of today, more than 11 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. It took only six days to add the last 1 million cases.

These numbers were not even imaginable just a few weeks ago.

So, what went wrong?

Almost everything.

We were lulled into complacency over the summer, when warm, humid weather promoted outdoor gatherings in a climate less favorable for transmission of the virus. As a result, we let down our guard. Lower rates of transmission over the summer created a false impression that COVID-19 was gone. So now that the weather is cooler and drier (conditions that allow for more efficient transmission of the virus), and gatherings have moved back indoors, the perfect storm has been created that has facilitated the current surge in the pandemic.

New study suggests COVID-19 could lead to mental health issues

By: Ben Hoekstra, public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health

A new study published in The Lancet suggests that COVID-19 patients are at greater risk for developing mental health disorders, with 1 in 5 receiving a mental health diagnosis within 90 days of infection. These have included conditions such as anxiety disorders, insomnia and dementia.

“This study is interesting, but we do have to take the results with a grain of salt due to the limitations mentioned,” said Dr. Munther Barakat, Director of Behavioral Therapy at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

“It shouldn’t be surprising to conclude patients develop mental health symptoms after experiencing a medical emergency. It’s common for patients to develop PTSD symptoms related to experiencing a medical trauma,” said Dr. Barakat. “ With COVID, the fear of its consequences are so high that just getting testing positive can bring about symptoms. Oftentimes, patients will be focused on healing and getting through it. Once the dust settles and they’ve healed, they begin to experience the mental health effects.”

This is why masks work even better than you thought

By: Mike Riopell, media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health

It’s been clear for months that masks are a critical tool in stopping the spread of coronavirus because they keep you from spreading the virus to other people.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control reports that wearing a mask also protects the person wearing it.

In some ways, the basic guidance on masks hasn’t changed, Dr. Robert Citronberg, executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention at Advocate Aurora Health, told ABC-7 Chicago on Thursday.

You should wear a mask because it slows the spread of COVID-19.

The difference is that scientists now know you get some benefit yourself, aside from protecting others.
“This is like gravy,” Dr. Citronberg said. “Not only are you protecting others from you, you can also achieve some benefit yourself by wearing a mask.”

Face Coverings Could Save 130,000 American Lives from COVID-19 by March

Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health, asks Americans to do the right thing and wear a mask in public to protect themselves and their communities from spreading the virus. He points to a “powerful new study that models just how critical this simple, low-cost step will be this winter and through the course of this pandemic.” Learn more.

Share the CDC’s “How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask” with your community. 
Will a mask help during flu season?

By: Neda Veselinovic, a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

Wearing a face mask can protect those around you from contracting COVID-19. But, can it also prevent the spread of other respiratory illnesses like the flu?

“Influenza is spread similarly to COVID-19, so wearing a mask during flu season, or whenever we have cold-like symptoms, is recommended,” says Dr. Kevin Koo, family medicine physician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. “This current pandemic has changed how we view our prevention of all respiratory diseases, of which influenza is a potentially deadly one.”

6 Mask Myths Debunked

By: Dr. Robert Citronberg, Executive Medical Director of Infectious Disease for Advocate Aurora Health

Months into the pandemic, misinformation about masks continues to spread via social media and other means. It can be difficult to distinguish truth from fiction.

Here are some myths you may have heard and the truth as best we know it right now.

MYTH: You don’t need to wear a mask because you already had COVID-19 and recovered.

TRUTH: We do not yet know if people who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune to getting infected again and if so for how long. Therefore, even if you have had COVID-19 you should still continue to wear a mask. Also, remember that flu season is coming up and wearing a mask will help you from spreading the flu to others.

What to Look for in a Cloth Mask
Wearing a cloth mask over your nose and mouth can help people protect each other from the spread of COVID-19. And in some places, wearing a mask when you’re indoors or can’t keep distance from others is the law.

Watch this video to learn what to look for in a cloth mask.
5 Things you Need to Know about Contact Tracing

With the news of contact tracing scams, and because contract tracing helps stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to recognize a real contact tracer from a fake one. Reporting scammers helps stop them, too. Report fake contact tracers to your state and at

Please share the 5 Things You Need To Know about contact tracing with your community:

  1. Real contact tracers won’t ask you for money.
  2. Contact tracing doesn’t require your bank account or credit card number.
  3. Your immigration status doesn’t matter for contact tracing, so real tracers won’t ask. If they do, you can bet it’s a scam.
  4. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security number.
  5. Do not click on a link in a text or email. Doing so can download malware onto your device.

Possible Post-Flu Shot Symptoms

While the influenza vaccine is generally accepted as being very safe, it is possible to have either localized or generalized side effects. Side effects you may experience occur within 12 hours to a few days of the vaccine administration and should improve within 48 hours.

What to do if you experience symptoms within 48 hours after receiving the flu vaccine: 

  • If you experience any of the symptoms shown in bold within 3 days of your influenza vaccination, you should continue to monitor your symptoms for the next 48 hours. 
  • If your symptoms do not improve after 48 hours, contact your healthcare provider.
  • If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or visit the emergency department as needed. 
Possible side effects to influenza vaccine include: (In BOLD are symptoms similar to symptoms of COVID-19)

  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot 
  • Headache (low grade) 
  • Fever 
  • Nausea 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Weakness (similar to fatigue) 
  • Hoarseness or wheezing 
  • Swelling around the eyes or lips 
  • Hives 
  • Paleness 
  • A fast heartbeat or dizziness
Advocate Aurora Health Resources
The spread of COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation. Continue to check the CDC website for up-to-date information and guidance.

See a list of COVID-19 resources specifically for faith communities in Illinois and Wisconsin, including resiliency resources, mental health resources, religious and spiritual resources and more.

The Advocate Aurora Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-4-HEALTH is staffed by clinicians who can answer questions about symptoms and determine the next steps in care.

The Advocate Aurora Health LiveWell app offers virtual appointments and virtual visits with physicians 24-hours a day.

The Advocate Aurora Health COVID-19 Resource Center in English and Spanish provides the most up-to-date information, tools and resources, including the policies for visiting patients in our hospitals, a COVID-19 Symptom Checker, CDC resources, ways you can donate, volunteer and help—and more.
See additional resources in English and Spanish below.
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For Illinois Residents: COVID-19 Virtual Care Program Available

Advocate Aurora Health and the State of Illinois have partnered to help people recover from COVID 19 safely at home. The program is available to all residents over 12 months of age with known exposure to COVID 19 or experiencing COVID like symptoms. The program is free and there are no insurance requirements.

The program offers:
  • Daily virtual check ins via our LiveWell app or website for a period of 14 days
  • Educational information
  • Symptom self management and support
  • A home monitoring kit for those who qualify

If you’re an Illinois resident, call 866 443 2584 to enroll.

Advocate Aurora Health-Sponsored Events

  • Wednesdays, through Dec. 30
  • 6:00-7:00 p.m.

“What’s Next?” is a weekly resilience program that combines evidence-based scientific studies with encouragement from faith-based resources. Participants will gain tools to:

  • build resilience amid the difficulties of life
  • learn from their experiences
  • use the knowledge they gain to nourish themselves and the world around them

Attend any or all sessions. LaShondria Purnell, RN, a faith community nurse with Advocate Aurora Health, facilitates "What's Next?" and looks forward to learning alongside you.
Tuesdays from 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Thursdays from 6:00-6:30 p.m.

The Prayer Support Line allows us to come together in unity to release our burdens, receive comfort and express our gratitude to God for holding us close during this pandemic. The Prayer Support Line is a place where we can join with others in prayer for health, healing and spiritual care with the expectation that God will meet us and provide us with encouragement.
Events from our Partners
Nov. 17, 2:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the HHS Partnership Center

Families often look first to trusted individuals in their community for reliable information on how to respond to today’s critical health issues – including COVID-19 and a future vaccine. This webinar training, offered by The Partnership Center and taught by a leading expert in health literacy, will provide Community Health Workers, Faith Community Nurses, Promotoras de Salud, and other trusted front-line health communicators with the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine development and the clinical trials – and why it is so important that community members participate in this life saving process.
Nov. 18, noon-1:30 p.m.

The world is experiencing COVID19, racial injustice, loss, and grief. Ministry leaders are on the front lines navigating these layers of suffering. What support do they need as they care for their congregation and communities? Join our conversation to learn from leading ministers and health practitioners who are currently serving during these pandemics.

We will also discuss the importance of caring well for one’s self amid these challenging times. We hope our conversation together will remind us that God has provided a community to share our burdens and to offer each other hope.

Panelists include Notable Chicago Civil rights leader Rev. Ira Acree (Greater St. John Bible Church), Rev. Ancy Post (Metro Church, Englewood, NJ), Dr. Alfonso Belmonte (Pediatric Hospitalist, New Mexico), and Rev. Dr. David Sutton (NPTS).
Dec. 3, 7:00 PM - 8:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Interfaith Mental Health Coalition South Suburban Mental Health Cluster.

A workshop designed for all who are dealing with pandemic stress as well as those supporting them, including parents and guardians, community leaders, educators, and faith leaders of all religious faiths.

Exploring Grief Groups
Lake Forest, Ill.
7:00-8:30 p.m. on Mondays through Nov. 30

North Shore, Ill.
7:00-8:30 p.m. on Thursdays through Dec. 10

Are you or someone you know grieving the loss of a family member, partner, or friend? If so, find comfort and support in free virtual Exploring Grief Groups. The groups provide a confidential, educational and nonjudgmental environment. They encourage attendees to cope with their loss and continue to find meaning in their lives. These groups are facilitated by professional counselors.

To register for Lake Forest group, contact Denise Kitanovski at 847-446-6955, ext. 22 or

To register for North Shore group, contact Joellen at 847-446-6955, ext. 19 or

  • Tuesdays through Jan. 12, 2021
  • 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Ill.

GriefShare is a special weekly seminar and support group designed to help you rebuild your life after losing a loved one. Our group is led by caring people who have experienced grief and want to help you through the difficult days ahead.

To register, call 708-366-6900 or email
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