Evanston, Illinois Raises COVID Transmission Level to ‘High’ as ​​Cases Rise; Recommendations issued based on CDC guidelines

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) — Evanston is now at a “high” community level of COVID, as defined by the CDC, due to increased hospitalizations, not just the number of cases.

Over the last seven days, Evanston has reported 397 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 305 the previous week.

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As a result, Evanston Health and Human Services has made the following recommendations based on CDC guidelines:

-Wear a mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status, including K-12 schools and other closed public settings
-Use a mask or respirator that provides greater protection if you are a person at high risk of serious illness
-Wear a mask if you have symptoms, a positive test, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

– Socialize outdoors if possible and avoid poorly ventilated indoor environments
-Get tested before attending a family or public event. Home tests are ideal for this purpose.
– Contact your doctor right away to get treatment for COVID-19 if you are diagnosed
– Keep up to date with vaccines and boosters against COVID-19.
– Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including testing if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Could COVID mask mandates return?

People flocking to restaurants in the northern suburb on Friday night were apparently unconcerned about rising COVID cases.

“We’ve been whacked, whacked twice, whacked triple, and now it’s time to start moving on with life,” said resident Mike Joyce.

“I’m not too worried about it,” Christina Joyce said. “People already have a lot of experience with how to protect themselves.”

Despite the heightened risk, Evanston Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo said the city is not going to bring back mask mandates.

“But we also have that in our toolbox, if we continue to see sustained high transmission rate in Evanston,” Ogbo said.

Instead, public health officials strongly recommend wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and urge residents to catch up on shots and boosters.

Ogbo said the same advice applies to Evanston Township High School students who will be attending their prom this weekend.

“With any big event there are issues with COVID hiring,” Ogbo said. “That’s why it’s necessary for people to follow these public health initiatives.”

In our area, only Kenosha and Racine counties in Wisconsin are at a “high” community level. Other counties in the Chicago area are at “medium” or “low” risk, and the city of Chicago is also at “medium” risk.

City officials say hospitalizations would have to double to go to the next level.

“We may hit a high, but I certainly don’t think it’s imminent in the next week,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “But this is why we’re asking while we’re ‘in the middle’ that they put masks back on to try and gather outside if they can.”

At the state level, officials said mask mandates are not being discussed.

“If we do get high, we will ask people to be very careful and avoid crowded enclosed spaces when possible,” said Dr. Amaal Tokars, acting director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Cases and hospitalizations have been on the rise, but COVID-related deaths remain at a pandemic low. Officials credit the vaccine and effective treatments, saying now is the time to get vaccinated and boosted if you haven’t already.

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