coronavirus illinois

Attending a Large Gathering? Consider Taking a COVID Test First, Chicago's Top Doc Says

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With COVID cases rising in Chicago and throughout the United States, the city’s top doctor has recommendations for those looking to gather for summertime fun.

First and foremost on that list? Taking an at-home COVID test prior to any large gatherings.

“If you’re going to be gathering in a large group, it’s a good idea to just take a home test, especially if there are people who are going to be at higher-risk, immune-compromised, etc., in that group,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday afternoon.

This week, Cook County and the city of Chicago both crossed a critical threshold in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID metrics, with both now classified as having a “medium community level” of the virus.

Both areas hit that threshold due to escalating levels of COVID cases in recent weeks, with the city of Chicago now experiencing more than 230 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents per week, according to the city’s COVID dashboard.

The city is also seeing its positivity rate slowly rising, approaching 5% this week, officials said.

Overall, COVID cases in the city are up 24% in the last week, with Chicago now averaging nearly 900 new cases of the virus per day.

Arwady says that in spite of the increase in cases, hospitalizations have still remained mostly steady and have even decreased in the last week, with the city now averaging 3.5 new admissions per 100,000 residents per week.

As a result, she says that the city is not expecting to reinstitute any COVID protocols in the coming weeks, but strongly recommends that residents wear masks in indoor settings or in large gatherings, and that proper precautions be taken to help protect immunocompromised populations.

Arwady says she still plans to attend summer concerts and weddings at this point, but will take at-home COVID tests prior to attending, and she recommends that others do the same.

“I think it’s appropriate to be planning those kinds of celebrations,” she said. “I am planning to go to all of the weddings that I have been invited to this summer…potentially testing in advance and with my vaccine card in hand.”

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