Chicago goes to medium risk level for COVID-19; masks recommended indoors again

CHICAGO (CBS) — As COVID-19 cases continue to slowly rise in Chicago, city health officials say the city is now at a “medium risk” level and are recommending people return to wearing masks indoors.

The Chicago Department of Public Health also said Chicagoans should ensure they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, get tested if exposed to the virus, and continue to follow isolation and quarantine protocols if they test positive. .

“We have long expected to reach the mid-level,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “It’s not cause for alarm as most cases right now are mild and fortunately our COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths remain at or near all-time pandemic lows in Chicago. But it’s cause for be more cautious and more careful with the use of masks”. , as more people in Chicago are infected with COVID right now. Remember that people can spread COVID for two days before developing symptoms, so wearing a mask indoors in public places is an easy way to help protect our city while we’re at mid-COVID.”

The move to the medium risk level comes as Chicago’s latest daily case average has risen to 754 cases per day, up 16% from last week. The city’s average positivity rate is 4.1%, up from 3.7% a week ago.


Indoor masks recommended again as Chicago moves to medium risk level

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“Chicago moving to the Mid Tier does not not mean a citywide mask mandate, restrictions on public gatherings, or reinstating vaccination requirements at this time,” Arwady said. “With the way current variants of COVID are behaving, those are measures we would consider if we get to the High COVID-19 community level, which we are nowhere near reaching in Chicago right now. But obviously we don’t want to get there, and exercising a little more caution now will help us keep COVID under control in Chicago.”

Health experts say this was not unexpected, but has renewed the call for people to get boosters if they are eligible.

That includes those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA is limit its use due to some blood clotting problemsBut Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert at the University of Chicago Medicine, says it’s less about that rare side effect and more about the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines providing more protection.

“This decision to restrict its use to certain people is not to say that the FDA process didn’t work, or that we couldn’t figure it out, it’s not a safe vaccine, it’s just saying we have a better option, so please use that one.” Landon said.

Landon said those who have already had COVID-19 but get it again will likely find their symptoms less severe, but the risks remain for the immunocompromised.

Landon also suggests that people wear masks indoors as a precaution. He adds that with unreported positive tests at home, the case count is actually three to four times what is reported.

It also warns that people who were infected with the Omicron variant in December or January could get COVID again, but it will be a less severe case.

DuPage, Lake and suburban Cook counties also moved to medium risk in the past two weeks.

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