Cases of COVID are going up across the United States, and the state of Illinois is also showing increases in numerous areas.
According to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, five counties in the state are currently at a “medium risk” of COVID transmission, with the federal agency making a series of recommendations to residents living in the impacted communities.
So what does a “medium risk” of COVID transmission mean? Which counties are impacted? And what does the data look like in those areas? Here are the details you need to know.
Which Counties are at a ‘Medium Risk’ of COVID Transmission?
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
According to the CDC, there are five counties in the state of Illinois currently at “medium risk” of COVID transmission. Two of those counties, DuPage and Lake, are in the Chicago area.
The other three are clustered in central Illinois, with Champaign, Logan and McLean counties all in that risk range.
What Constitutes a ‘Medium Risk’ of COVID Transmission?
According to the CDC, a combination of three metrics is used to determine a county’s risk factor for COVID transmission.
The first is the number of new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. The second is the percentage of a county’s staffed inpatient hospital beds that are occupied by COVID patients, and the third is the number of new COVID cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.
Under CDC guidelines, counties that are seeing fewer than 200 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents will be considered at medium-risk if they are averaging between 10 and 19.9 new COVID admissions per 100,000 residents, or if they are reporting between 10 and 14.9% hospital bed usage over a seven-day period.
Counties that are reporting more than 200 new COVID cases per day per 100,000 residents are at a medium-risk of COVID transmission. If their new COVID-19 admissions exceed 10 per 100,000 residents, or their percentage of staffed hospital bed usage exceeds 10%, then they would move to a “high risk” category.
What Are the Numbers in the Affected Counties?
DuPage County is currently considered to be at a “medium risk” of COVID transmission because of its case rate. According to the CDC, the county is seeing 258.64 new cases of COVID per 100,000 residents, putting it at an increased alert level.
The county is averaging 5.7 new COVID admissions per 100,000 residents, which is an elevated number but still below the number that would trigger a move to a “high risk” category. The county’s hospital bed usage is still low as well, only sitting at 1.8%.
Lake County is seeing nearly identical numbers, with 212.19 new cases per 100,000 residents. In fact, it’s new COVID admissions (5.7) and staffed hospital bed usage (1.8%) are identical to DuPage County, per CDC data.
Further downstate, McLean County is seeing 291.52 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents. Logan County is close behind at 283.04, and Champaign County has the highest number of new cases in the state at 352.9 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Even still, Champaign County’s new admissions (5.3) and staffed bed usage (1.5%) are still far below the “high risk” threshold.
What the CDC Recommends for The Five Counties
If you live in one of the counties currently in the “medium risk” category, the CDC still recommends staying up-to-date with COVID vaccines, and to get tested if you exhibit symptoms of COVID.
The main change from the low to medium risk categories is that individuals who are immunocompromised or otherwise at high-risk for severe illness are encouraged to talk to their health care providers about whether or not they should wear a mask and take other precautions related to COVID.
If a county moves to the high transmission risk level, then all residents are urged to wear masks indoors, and for immunocompromised individuals to take additional precautions.