CDC Recommends Masks in Only 19 US Counties, 4 of Them Are in Illinois

Illinois isn't the state with the most counties listed as high risk, according to updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance

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Even as the vast majority of the U.S. has made progress in the fight against COVID-19, more than a dozen counties across the country are experiencing troubling metrics, as shown by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Of the nation's 3,006 counties, 123 are listed in the medium community level category, as defined by CDC, and 19 are said to have high community levels, meaning masks are recommended.

But of those 19 counties, four are in Illinois: Gallatin, Hardin, Pope and Saline counties.

Illinois, however, isn't the state with the most counties listed as high risk.

South Dakota has the most, with six counties in the category, followed by Illinois and Pennsylvania, which each have four.

A county's community level status is determined by the higher of the new admissions and inpatient beds metrics, based on the current level of new cases per 100,000 people, according to health officials.

Under CDC guidance, counties are designated as one of three color-coded levels: green, yellow and orange.

People in green and yellow counties, with low and medium COVID levels, respectively, do not need to wear masks. However, people in yellow counties who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID should consult with their physician about whether they should wear a mask or take other precautions.

It's uncertain when and if other counties will see a change in community levels and mask recommendations, but it remains possible.

Illinois reported more than 2,000 new confirmed and probable COVID cases in a single day Friday for the first time in more than a month. Similarly, a "gradual increase" in COVID cases was reported even in Chicago, though health officials said the rise was expected.

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