Chicago health officials said Friday that Cook County is once again “strongly recommended” but not required as the risk of contracting COVID-19 increases.
Chicago Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Ellison Arvadi formed the council after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Cook County considered the community to be at a “medium” risk of infection. The measurements are based on a combination of new cases and hospitalizations, but automatically reach the average category if they exceed 200 positive tests per 100,000 residents per week.
Arvadi noted that while the county is in the medium risk category, the city is not close to reinstating the mandate for wearing a mask or vaccinating in a building, but Chicago public schools and the Chicago Transit Office still “encourage” masks indoors.
“Chicago will not rise to the middle level That means restoring a citywide mask mandate, restrictions or demands on public gatherings, ”Arvadi said in a statement. . “
At CPS, staff and parents received a letter from CPS Director General Pedro Martinez saying the district “strongly encourages the use of masks in our schools, especially among unvaccinated students,” but it would not restore the mask mandate that was dropped in March. In the letter, Martinez said the CPS would follow the recommendations of the Chicago Department of Health.
According to Martinez, the positive level of the COVID-19 testing program in the district school is 0.68%, and the positive level in the city is 3.9%. A positive level of 0.68% is near the end of the highest, highly contagious omicron variant for the district’s testing program since January. The number of CPS cases has been rising since students returned from spring break last month.
Last month, Arvadi suggested that a medium-level mark could lead to the restoration of the mask mandate in the CPS, but this week he said he would only introduce some form of demand for masks at high risk.
Technically, 195 new cases per 100,000 residents were recorded in Chicago last week – just below the 200 threshold. But Arvadi said if the county breaks 200 cases per 100,000 for the first time, the city will follow Cook County. According to the CDC, Cook County has 259 cases per 100,000 residents. However, the COVID-19 level and ICU capacity are still for the city and for the county.
The incidents came a week after suburban Cook County areas reached moderate levels of risk, prompting officials to wear masks indoors, and the number of COVID-19s is on the rise in Illinois.
On Friday, state health officials reported 7,709 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, an unprecedented level since early February. Over the past week, the state recorded an average of 4,376 new cases per day, up from an average of 1,426 daily a month ago.
Although the CDC monitors community level only in the county, Illinois registers 240 cases per week per 100,000 residents. In addition to Cook County, all five of the five counties in northern and central Illinois, and eight others, are now in the middle, where elderly people and people with immune systems are advised to wear masks.
However, Amaal Tokars, acting director of the Illinois Department of Health, said in a statement Friday that the agency “emphasizes that this is not a cause for concern.”
Those at high risk for the serious consequences of KOVID should be “vigilant” and everyone should be vaccinated, he said.
Although the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is still relatively small, it is still increasing across the state.
As of Thursday night, there were 808 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state, up from 515 a month earlier. In January, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 reached 7,380. 12, the height of the winter is determined by the omicron variant.
The death toll remains low, with the state reporting an average of seven per day in the past week, including seven on Fridays. In all, 33,660 people have died across the state since the pandemic began.
Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Petrella contributed.