CHICAGO — The Cook County health department is urging all businesses to require patrons to be fully vaccinated as it sees an increase in suspected Omicron cases.
But the measure is a recommendation, not a requirement, meaning it’s still up to individual businesses to decide what to do.
The move comes as Chicago and its suburbs have seen sharp upticks in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks. Though this recent wave is still largely made up of Delta cases, Omicron cases have been found in the city and in suburban Cook County — and officials have said they expect to see more.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week she’ll soon make an announcement about what mitigation measures are coming. Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said officials are considering requiring more businesses to check the vaccination cards of patrons.
Arwady has said city officials don’t want to go back to mass closures at this point, and she’s still “strongly” in support of people gathering for holidays so long as attendees are vaccinated and take other safety steps.
In a Friday news release, Cook County Department of Public Health officials said they are urging people and businesses to take caution as cases rise and the suburbs see more suspects cases of the Omicron variant
The variant is thought to be much more contagious than past versions of the virus, though more research is needed before it’s determined if it is more or less severe than other forms of COVID-19.
Here are the county’s recommendations during this surge:
Vaccinations and boosters:
- Fully vaccinated people should get their booster shots if they are eligible.
- People who are not fully vaccinated should get their shots. “Vaccination against COVID-19 will protect against severe disease and death, even with the emergence of the Omicron variant,” according to the country health department. “Initial data indicates that boosters are especially important now, to provide extra protection against this new variant.”
- People who are not fully vaccinated should not gather indoors with people outside their household.
- People who wish to celebrate the holidays should get tested two days before their holiday event and the morning of the event. People who test positive should stay home and isolate.
- People should wear masks.
- Workplaces should hold virtual holiday gatherings instead of in-person ones to avoid large groups of employees congregating.
- Businesses are “urged” to require patrons to be fully vaccinated and/or to require patrons show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of entry, according to the county health department. This measure is “especially important” at places where large groups congregate indoors and where people remove their masks.
- Masks are required for indoor spaces.
• In Illinois, about 7.6 million people — or 59.78 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.
• Across the state, 66,816 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.
• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 18,475,621 vaccine doses of the 21,212,415 provided to them.
• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 63.4 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 70.2 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.
Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.
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.
• Fifty-two Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.
• At least 27,117 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,085 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
• The state reported 10,765 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,944,056.
• Since Thursday, 210,023 tests were reported statewide. In all, 42,033,355 tests have been reported in Illinois.
• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 4.9 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.7 percent Thursday.
• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 6.2 percent. It was at 5.9 percent Thursday.
• As of Thursday night, 787 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 353 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.
• In Chicago, no deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 6,121 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of eight people dying per day, a 44 percent increase from last week.
• Chicago has had 2,436 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 364,525 confirmed cases. An average of 1,035 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 5 percent from the week prior.
• Testing in Chicago is down 4 percent since a week ago.
• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.5 percent, up from 4 percent the week prior.
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