Despite progress in COVID metrics across most of Illinois and the absence of a face covering requirement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending masks in some Illinois counties.
The CDC updated its county-by-county community levels map Thursday, showing high levels in four counties across southern Illinois.
In those communities, people are advised to wear masks in public indoor spaces, including schools, and take additional precautions if at risk for severe illness.
The following counties are listed in the high category:
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- Gallatin County
- Hardin County
- Pope County
- Saline County
The CDC in February shifted metrics to lean less heavily on COVID-19 cases and instead give more weight to hospitalizations and hospital capacity. The guidance is broken into three color-coded levels.
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.
Currently, no Illinois counties are said to be at medium risk. Excluding the four counties listed as high risk, the rest of Illinois is considered low risk.
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.
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.
To learn more information about the COVID situation in your community, you can find the CDC's map of community levels by county here.