COVID-19 cases continue to be on the rise across Chicago, though the city's hospitalizations and deaths saw a drop over the past week, according to the latest data.
As of Wednesday, cases were up to 481 on average per day, which is up 12% from 430 as of one week ago, the latest data from the Chicago Department of Public Health showed.
Hospitalizations were down 36% over the last seven days and deaths were down 80%, though fatalities have remained below one per day on average for several weeks, data showed.
On Wednesday, Chicago's positivity rate was 5.8%, which has increased from 2.3% last week, according to CDPH. Both vaccinations and test shave also dropped since the prior week.
Despite increased COVID cases and positivity rate, Chicago remains at "low" COVID risk in terms of transmission rates, CDPH date showed.
Though coronavirus cases are on the rise in Chicago, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that the state will no longer require face masks while traveling on public transportation, aligning with a ruling from a federal judge who struck down the mandate.
The change means masks will no longer be required on public transit, in public transit hubs or in airports in Illinois, though they could remain in place in some locations as "local municipalities retain the right to establish their own mitigations, including masking requirements on public transportation," Pritzker said.
So where have masks been removed in Chicago?
According to the statement released Tuesday from the Chicago Department of Aviation, which administers all aspects Chicago O'Hare and Midway International Airports, masks will no longer be required at both airports, effective immediately.
“In order to align with recent changes in state and federal guidelines, the Chicago Department of Aviation will no longer require masks at O’Hare and Midway International Airports,” officials said.
A number of major US airlines, including Chicago-based United Airlines, have also said that the federal ruling means masks are no longer required on planes for domestic flights.
Metra said Tuesday that masks will now be optional on train lines, following the change in Illinois executive order re announcement from Pritzker that face coverings will no longer be required in Illinois while traveling on public transportation.
"Given Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement, starting immediately, masks will be welcome but not required while traveling on Metra trains. They remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. We are asking everyone to please be courteous and kind toward your fellow riders and understanding of their needs and choices. This has been a difficult period for everyone – let’s all do what we can to help each other on the way back," Metra said in a statement.
The Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and Amtrak released statements Tuesday saying masks are now optional on train lines and buses, effective immediately.
"As a result of the Governor's announcement regarding executive order 2022-06, CTA will no longer require masks on public transit," CTA said in a statement.
The agencies asked that passengers be courteous and respectful of other riders, still encouraging customers to wear a mask while on board.
"In response to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement, masks will be welcome but not required on Pace buses or at facilities effective immediately," Pace said in a statement. "Let’s all do what we can to help each other on the way back."
In terms of rideshares, both Uber and Lyft released statements saying masks are now optional for riders and drivers.
"As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber," the company said in updated safety guidance on its website. "However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area."
Lyft offered a similar statement and added: "We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders can decline to accept or cancel any ride they don't wish to take."
Are masks required anywhere in Illinois now?
According to Illinois' updated executive order, masks are no longer required indoors in public space, on public transportation or in public transportation hubs. The order states masks are still required in long-term care facilities, congregate facilities like homeless shelters and correctional facilities, and health care settings — but only as long as the CDC's continues to provide guidance in those areas.
In addition, local municipalities do have the right to establish their own COVID protocols. Some private businesses like restaurants and retail shops may also ask you to wear a mask before entering.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department said Tuesday it will not appeal the judge’s ruling that ended the nation’s federal mask mandate on public transit unless the CDC believes the requirement is still necessary.