Chicago Travel Advisory Update: COVID Safety Measures Advised in 7% of US

The number of Illinois counties at a high community level increased from last week, according to the latest data.

Chicagoans who visit parts of the U.S. categorized as medium or high COVID-19 community levels by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID, according to the city's updated travel advisory.

The Chicago Department of Public Health on Friday said 7.4% of U.S. counties were listed at either a medium or high community level, citing the latest classifications from the CDC.

Community level measurements are determined by new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past seven days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days, according to the CDC.

Nineteen Illinois counties are at a high community level, compared to 15 last week, updated data revealed.

Nationally, the number of counties at a high level dropped slightly from last week, from 250 to 241. More than 30% of the country is said to be at a medium or high community level, marking an increase from last week's 28%.

Will, Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties in the Chicago area all remain under the high category, along with several others across the state, as new subvariant counties to spread nationwide.

Here's what to do if you visit an area considered as a medium or high community level:

In high community levels, people are encouraged to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status and to maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible.

Those who are age 5 or older and aren't up to date with COVID vaccinations should avoid traveling to areas listed as high community levels, according to the recommendations. Unvaccinated individuals who decide to travel should follow CDC guidance upon returning to Chicago, which includes quarantining for 5 days following travel and taking a COVID test 3 to 5 days after returning.

In medium community levels, people should "consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces," health officials have said. In those areas, people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease should talk to their health care provider about whether they need to wear a mask and take other precautions.

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