Chicago is handing out 1.5 million masks to city aldermen Tuesday, which will then be distributed to residents as the city continues to work to lower the current surge in cases sparked by the omicron COVID variant.
Officials said KN95 masks will be given to aldermen by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which will then distribute them "to constituents and community groups to ensure this important resource is available in every community."
"Residents or groups interested in these masks should contact their Aldermanic office for details," the city said in a release.
The city's top doctor has said that KN95 masks, the most widely available high-filtration masks, offer better protection than cloth masks and are "good to use" when available.
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An indoor mask mandate remains in effect across both the city and state.
This comes as the Chicago reports an average of 4,793 new COVID cases per day, a drop from last week's 5,189. Hospitalizations, however, are averaging 187 per day, an increase of 37% in the last week. Deaths are also reporting an increase of 25% in the last week.
Across Illinois, health officials reported more than 19,000 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with more than 7,100 patients currently hospitalized after testing positive for the virus.
The state reported 19,237 cases on Monday, the lowest number since Jan. 2. The state is now averaging 31,647 new cases per day, seeing a decline in that number for the first time since Dec. 27.
The state reported 34 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing Illinois to 28,568 COVID fatalities since the pandemic began in Feb. 2020. Another 3,348 deaths are currently listed as “probable” COVID-19 fatalities.
The state’s positivity rate declined on Monday, with 13.4% of all tests coming back with positive results and 17.3% of patients tested coming back with positive results, according to IDPH data. More than 46.8 million tests have been conducted in the state during the pandemic.
Currently there are 7,114 patients hospitalized that have been diagnosed with COVID in the state, which is down from the high watermark of 7,170 that was set on Sunday.
Of those patients, 1,139 are currently in intensive care units, according to IDPH data.
Still, it remains unclear when the city and state will reach their peak with omicron cases.
Arwady predicted the peak will be reached sometime this month, though she noted there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding if and when it could happen.