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Indoor Masks Should Return For Some, Including In Schools, CDC To Recommend As COVID Surges

Even fully vaccinated people should wear masks in some places as Delta fuels another wave of coronavirus, officials will recommend Tuesday.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are administered by Jewel-Osco pharmacists to union workers at the IUOE Local 399 union hall ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris's visit to discuss vaccine rollouts and union work in Chicago on April 6, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will again recommend some people wear masks when indoors, even if fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The changing safety guidance is the result of a national surge in COVID-19 cases. Officials have blamed the latest wave on the more contagious Delta variant, not enough people getting vaccinated and people letting down their guard.

The CDC will recommend people who live in areas with high transmission rates wear masks when indoors in public, even if fully vaccinated, according to the Washington Post. It will also suggest masking indoors in public for individuals with vulnerable people in their households, including people who are immunocompromised and young children who can’t be vaccinated yet.

Universal masking for teachers and students in school will also be recommended.

Chicago Public Schools had already planned to require masking in schools regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said this week Chicago could bring back its mask mandate if the outbreak here worsens — but the city’s not quite at that point.

“If we get back into an area where we feel like we’re in a red zone … we’re not only going to look at a mask mandate, but we’re going to look back at other tools that we’ve been compelled to use,” Lightfoot said in a New York Times podcast. “I hope we don’t get there.”

Illinois instated a statewide mask mandate April 23, 2020, as the pandemic’s first wave tore through the state. Everyone was required to wear a face covering in public spaces.

The rule was gradually relaxed this spring as more people got vaccinated and, by mid-May, the city said fully vaccinated people didn’t need to wear masks indoors. Local and federal officials have continued to recommend mask-wearing for unvaccinated people.

But the country is in the midst of a COVID-19 surge, and Chicago’s and Illinois’ numbers have been on their way back up.

Lightfoot warned in the podcast the mask mandate or other safety measures could return if the city starts “consistently going over that” 200-case mark. As of Tuesday, the city’s seeing an average of 165 confirmed cases per day, a 76 percent jump from a week ago.

Local officials have urged people to get vaccinated to be protected against COVID-19. The three vaccines used in the United States are widely effective at preventing serious illness and death from the virus, including the Delta variant.

People should also continue to take safety precautions, like wearing masks in public spaces and avoiding large gatherings if they’re not fully vaccinated, officials said.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, will have a COVID-19 update for Chicago at 1 p.m.

The CDC’s announcement will be made at 2 p.m., according to the Washington Post.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.4 million people of all ages — or 50.46 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 17,776 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 13,112,424 vaccine doses of the 14,669,125 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.39 million Chicagoans — or 51.8 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 57.9 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Five Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Monday.

• At least 23,414 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,472 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 1,669 cases since Monday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,413,490.

• Since Monday, 31,019 tests were reported statewide. In all, 26,678,361 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 3.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 3.5 percent Monday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 4.2 percent. It was at 3.9 percent Monday.

• As of Monday night, 169 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 62 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,498 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of no deaths per day, a 100 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 179 confirmed cases reported since Monday. It’s had a total of 288,929 confirmed cases. An average of 165 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 76 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has decreased 10 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2.6 percent, up from 1.3 percent the week prior.

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