As a sign of progress in the fight against COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Public Health revealed none of Illinois' 102 counties are listed at "high" community level status for the first time in more than four months.
Every week since mid-May, at least one county had been listed at "high" status, the third of three classifications outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC previously implemented community level guidance, which ranks counties at either "low, "medium" or "high" status based on new admissions, the number of occupied inpatient beds and the current level of new cases per 100,000 people.
One week ago, both the city of Chicago and Cook County dropped from "medium" to "low" community level status for the first time since May as well. The Chicago Department of Public Health noted while masking recommendations may be relaxed, the most basic COVID guidance does not change, such as getting tested for COVID if you're sick and wearing a mask in crowded settings.
In a news release Friday, Arwady said she was pleased to see that the Chicago area remained "low" for another week. However, she explained an uptake of the bivalent COVID booster, designed to fight the original COVID strain and updated variants, has been slower than hoped.
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"...We need to everyone to remain up-to-date with vaccinations, which means getting the updated vaccine, the bivalent booster, or we are at real risk of potentially seeing another surge this fall or winter as people move indoors,” the doctor said.
As of Friday, 20 Illinois counties were said to be at "medium" status, including Lake County. All other Chicago-area counties were said to be at "low" status.
The following precautions are recommended at all three community levels: staying up to date on vaccines, including boosters, avoiding contact with those who have a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case, following recommendations for isolation if you have COVID or suspect you've gotten it and following recommendations for what steps to take if you are exposed.
At "medium" status, anyone at high risk of getting seriously ill should wear a high-quality mask or respirator, such as an N95, when in public indoors. Additionally, if you have contact with someone else at high risk, consider self-testing to detect infection before contact, according to the CDC.
Here are all of the Illinois counties currently at "medium" status: