CHAMPAIGN — All of East Central Illinois is headed into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with a low rate of COVID-19 community transmission.

But two other respiratory illnesses — influenza and RSV — could still become uninvited guests at your holiday dinner table.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde said while COVID-19 transmission is low, flu and RSV are spreading.

“Basically, people need to continue doing all the things we suggest during winter respiratory season,” she said.

COVID-19 “goes up and down, and it’s going to go up again,” she said. “I don’t want people to get a false sense of security right now.”

Carle Health reported Monday that 15.7 percent of the COVID-19 tests it has processed in the week ending this past Saturday were positive. The percentage has been trending up since October.

As of the most recent Illinois Department of Public Health update, there were 21 counties in the state at an elevated COVID-19 transmission level, with transmission low in all other counties. Winnebago County was the only county in the state at a high transmission level.

While people were urged not to gather at the holidays earlier in the pandemic, this year, state health officials have advised testing before gathering as a precaution.

Pryde said she’s always a fan of that but understands that it will be a hardship for some, especially with large families getting together.

What people can do is crack open a window, if weather permits, keep a little distance from others and especially stay home if they have any respiratory illness symptoms.

“If you’re sick, say to your family, ‘Bring me a plate of the turkey,’” she said.

Influenza is currently at a high level in Illinois, and cases and hospitalizations involving RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) have been on the rise in multiple areas of the country. Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana recently opened extra beds for children with RSV.

While COVID-19 transmissions have been on the low side, there were 18 Champaign County residents hospitalized with it, according to the health district’s latest update.

As of Monday, Carle Health facilities were caring for 31 COVID-19 patients, 20 of them in Carle Foundation Hospital.

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