Explaining COVID cases among school children continue to cause disruptions, the Oak Park Health Department has released new guidance for schools in an effort to reduce the virus' spread.
According to the updated guidance issued Tuesday, schools should immediately begin contract tracing after being notified of a COVID case. All close contacts should be notified within 24 hours, the recommendation stated.
Individuals identified as close contacts are advised to take part in bi-weekly SHIELD COVID testing. Furthermore, anyone who tests positive is encouraged to isolate for a minimum of five days and wear a high-quality mask for 10 days following an infection, health officials stated.
As of Wednesday, the Oak Park Health Department reported 437 COVID cases, a sharp increase from the 102 cases seen a month ago. Oak Park, along with the rest of suburban Cook County, has been listed as a "medium" COVID community level by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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To be placed in the "medium" category, an area must have more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents and fewer than 10 percent of staff inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Within the past month or so, Oak Park health officials have received reports of outbreaks related to social gatherings, sports events, school trips, long-term care facilities, congregate housing and more.
With warmer weather on the horizon and summer nearing, the Oak Park Health Department encourages residents to consider hosting events outdoors and ask guests to undergo a COVID test prior to their arrival.
Other recommendations include wearing a mask when around those at high risk for severe illness, staying home when sick, testing at the first sign of illness and staying up to date on boosters, according to the health department.