Following improvements in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations, both Chicago and Cook County have shifted from a "medium" to "low" COVID community level status for the first time in months, according to health officials.
As of Friday, all Chicago-area counties in Illinois are listed at "low" community level status, a marked improvement from weeks earlier, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Statewide, three counties were said to be at a "high" community level, 33 were reported to be at "medium" and 66 were listed at "low." In Cook County and Chicago, "low" status hadn't been achieved since May.
In a news release, Dr. Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said she was pleased by the downward shift and thanked Chicagoans for following COVID-19 precautions, but noted even at the "low" community level, COVID guidance doesn't change.
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She urged residents to consider wearing a well-fitting mask in crowded indoor settings, to ask their doctor about anti-viral COVID medicine if they do get sick and to get up-to-date on vaccines before the cold sets in.
"Colder weather is coming and residents are starting to move indoors, which is traditionally when we see respiratory virus rates rise. Please don’t wait to get vaccinated this year. Do it now to protect yourself, your family, and our whole city,” the doctor said.
Counties at a “high” community level are seeing elevated levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations, percentages of staffed beds being taken up by COVID patients, or dramatic increases in overall case numbers.
Residents in those counties are advised to take precautions against the virus, including wearing masks in indoor spaces and staying away from large gatherings if they are immunocompromised or have other common risk factors for severe illness if they contract COVID.
For those under a "medium" alert level, here's what is recommended by the CDC: