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Chicago Could Soon Be Medium Risk For COVID-19 As Cases Rise, Health Department Says

Cook County's health department announced Friday the suburbs are also considered medium risk and people should wear masks when indoors.

Pedestrians, some wearing face masks, cross State Street in the Loop as the weather warms up on April 11, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Nearly 10 percent of the United States is now considered medium or high risk for COVID-19 exposure — and Chicago could move into that territory soon.

About 9.7 percent of U.S. counties, or 314 counties, are medium or high risk under Chicago’s travel advisory, according to a Friday health department news release. That number has risen as more parts of the United States see COVID-19 cases rise; a week ago, there were 189 counties in those categories.

Five counties in Illinois — DuPage, Lake, Champaign, McLean and Mason — are now in the medium risk category of the travel advisory. Cook County’s health department announced Friday the suburbs are also considered medium risk and people should wear masks when indoors.

Chicago could move into the medium risk level in the next one to two weeks as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, though the number of people hospitalized with or dying from the virus remain low in the city, according to the city health department.

“We are, thankfully, very far from reaching the ‘high’ COVID-19 level, but people should begin to exercise more caution — especially if they or someone they live with is at high-risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19,” health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a news release. “As always, I am most worried about unvaccinated people, as they are still at the highest risk. If you are not vaccinated or you are not up-to-date with your vaccines because you have not received a booster, now is the time to do it.”

The CDC evaluates a county as low, medium or high risk depending on the number of new COVID-19 cases in that area, as well as what toll COVID-19 is placing on the area’s health care system.

All travelers should check the map so they know if they are going to an area where the COVID-19 risk is low, medium or high, according to the health department.

Here’s the city’s guidance:

Low-Risk Areas

Travelers do not need to take additional action, but they should follow standard guidance related to travel, according to the health department.

Medium-Risk Areas

Travelers should consider wearing a mask when indoors in public places.

High-Risk Areas

All travelers:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public place.
  • People 5 and older who are not fully vaccinated should avoid travel to high-risk counties.
  • All travelers should be fully vaccinated and boosted before traveling.
  • Travelers should watch themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. They should isolate and get tested if they develop symptoms.
  • Travelers should consider packing an at-home COVID-19 test so they can use it if they develop symptoms.
  • All travelers should bring a mask with them.

Unvaccinated travelers:

  • Unvaccinated Chicagoans who are 5 or older and go to a high-risk county should stay home and quarantine for five days after returning to Chicago.
  • Those travelers should also take a COVID-19 test three to five days after returning to Chicago. If it’s positive, they should stay home and follow CDC guidance.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 8.2 million people — or 64.72 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 14,062 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 21,900,213 vaccine doses of the 26,738,545 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.8 million Chicagoans — or 69 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 77.5 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.

The numbers:

• Since Friday, six Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 33,620 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 4,286 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 8,891 cases since Friday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 3,147,663.

• The state is reporting an average of 200 confirmed cases per day per 100,000 people. That average was at 193 on Friday.

• As of Sunday night, 72 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 21 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, no deaths were reported since Friday. There have been at least 7,376 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of less than one death per day, unchanged from last week.

• Chicago has had 1,789 confirmed cases reported since Friday. It’s had a total of 583,733 confirmed cases. An average of 670 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 28 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is up 68 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 3.8 percent, down from 5 percent a week ago.

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