With nearly every Chicago-area county having reached the "medium community level" for COVID-19, per guidance set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what does that mean for you?
As of Friday, Cook, Kane, McHenry, Lake, DuPage, DeKalb, Kendall and Will counties all were listed under the CDC's "medium community" alert level, the second-highest level on the CDC's scale. At least six other counties in the state - including McLean, Logan, Sangamon, Douglas, Champaign and Winnebago counties - are also at this level.
The designation means elderly or immunocompromised individuals are urged to wear masks in public indoor spaces.
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Last week, only five counties were at the medium community level.
Here's what the CDC recommends for counties under a medium alert level:
- If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
- Get tested if you have symptoms
In places with low community transmission, residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date with COVID vaccines and boosters, and maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible.
As of Friday, no communities were said to be experiencing high transmission in Illinois, though several counties in the Northeast had reached that designation.
Counties that do reach a high community level are urged to reinstate mask-wearing for all individuals indoors regardless of vaccination status and to consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities.
Chicago's top doctor said the medium designation means the city will be strongly recommending masks, but the requirement likely won't return until a high designation is revealed.
"Assuming that COVID continues to behave in the way that it has been behaving, we would not mandate masking or mandate vaccine for high risk settings unless we were at a high at a high level per CDC," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said earlier this week. "But at medium you will see more signs, for example...But as we move into a medium risk level, and we'll see more of this now strongly recommended indoors... I personally will be putting my mask back on more. We are not at red - red, masks are required indoors and that will also be true in schools."