covid illinois

‘Direction We're Heading': Chicago Could Soon Reach High COVID Level: Top Doc

Arwady said Chicago could reach the higher level "in the next few weeks"

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the United States, Chicago's top doctor says she expects the city could soon reach a "high" community level.

"Unfortunately that is the direction that we're heading," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live Tuesday, calling it a "point of concern."

While no Illinois counties are at the “high community level” of COVID, there are 14 that are currently at a “medium community level” of the virus. That includes Cook County, as well as seven other Chicago-area counties, according to CDC data.

Evanston, a northern suburb just outside of Chicago, has said it is currently at a "high" community level.

Arwady said Chicago could reach a similar level "in the next few weeks."

"While severe outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths, continue to remain at or near all-time pandemic lows in the city of Chicago, Cook County (including Chicago) could move into the High Level soon based on case counts and regional hospital impact," CDPH said in a release Tuesday.

Chicago's positivity rate has soared above 6% in recent weeks, with data showing a current average of 1,172 new daily cases over the last seven days. That number is up from the 922 reported the previous week.

Hospitalizations, however, are averaging 18 a day, up just 2% from the week before.

Still, Arwady said the slow rate of hospitalization growth leaves room for optimism.

"While our hospital numbers remain as good as they are, we'd have to see twice as many Chicagoans getting hospitalized to need to be thinking about mandates," she said.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the United States, some experts are saying that the country could be entering a fifth wave of the virus as summer approaches. Christian Farr has the details.

Even still, the rise in COVID cases could signify that the United States is in a "fifth wave" of COVID cases, according to some health experts.

For the first time in more than three months, Illinois is averaging more than 6,000 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, with hospitalizations also beginning to climb across the state.

In the last seven days, the state’s daily average of new COVID cases has gone up by 17.7%, according to IDPH officials. In the last month, cases have increased by 174%.

Both Chicago and Cook County have moved from “low” to “medium” risk for COVID-19, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced Friday, as cases continue to rise across the area. NBC 5’s Natalie Martinez has the story.

A new subvariant of omicron is making up an increasing proportion of the COVID cases in the United States, according to the latest estimates from the CDC.

According to that data, the majority of cases in the United States are still made up by the BA.2 subvariant of omicron, but that number has dropped to 50.9% this week.

The BA.2.12.1 variant, which has been responsible for a large surge in cases, especially in the northeast, is now up to 47.5% of COVID cases this week across the U.S., and it's at 44.7% in the Midwest.

Arwady noted things might get worse before they get better.

"I do think we need to get to a point where this latest increase, which is more contagious, is the dominant one," she said. "So that's probably going to take another couple of weeks if I had to take a guess. And then the question is, can we have a break here in terms of new variants and new sub variants, but the great news is that vaccines are working wonderfully in terms of keeping folks out of the hospital."

For now, while she encouraged masking indoors and added precautions, she said the return of mask mandates likely won't happen until hospitalizations rise.

"While our hospital numbers remain as good as they are, we'd have to see twice as many Chicagoans getting hospitalized to need to be thinking about mandates," she said. 
Contact Us