Cook County health officials on Friday issued new mitigation recommendations for both residents and businesses in Chicago's suburbs, saying "suspected cases of the omicron variant are rising... and are likely to escalate quickly."
The county said that while the delta variant remains the prominent variant, case counts, case rates, test positivity, hospitalizations and deaths "are all increasing."
"CCDPH is issuing Increased mitigation practices for individuals and businesses," the county health department said in a release. "CCDPH urges suburban Cook County residents to follow them to slow the spread of COVID-19. We must continue to work together to keep each other healthy and to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system."
Here's what the county health department now recommends:
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VACCINATION and BOOSTERS:
- If you are fully vaccinated, get your booster once you are eligible.
- Two dose vaccines – at least 6 months post your second dose (16 years and older)
- One-dose vaccines – at least 2 months post your original dose (18 years and older)
- If you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. Vaccination against COVID-19 will protect against severe disease and death, even with the emergence of the omicron variant. Initial data indicates that boosters are especially important now, to provide extra protection against this new variant. Boosters are available for all adults, and for people 16 years and older with the Pfizer vaccine.
- If you are not fully vaccinated, please do not gather indoors with others outside your household.
- Anyone wishing to celebrate the season with others is strongly urged to get a COVID test 2-3 days before the event, and to test again the morning of the event. Stay home if you have a positive test and follow CDC isolation guidance.
- Wear masks to protect yourself and others.
- Workplaces are strongly urged to hold virtual holiday gatherings to avoid large groups of congregating employees.
- Establishments are urged to require patrons to be fully vaccinated for entry, and/or provide proof of a negative COVID test within 24 hours of entry.
- Large gatherings are defined by the CDC as those where many people from multiple households meet. Large events include conferences, trade shows, sporting events, festivals, concerts, or large weddings and parties.
- Masking requirements are still in effect for indoor spaces and activities. All people age 2 years old and older who can medically tolerate it must wear a mask in indoor public settings.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said that while metrics are rising in the state, there are no current plans to increase such mitigations statewide. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has previously encouraged local health authorities to evaluate the needs on a region-by-region basis.
"Last year is when the vaccines first were administered in our state. We were hoping to be in a completely different place," Ezike said Friday. "So there are no plans at this time to institute additional measures similar to what we saw, you know, last year, but we continue to have the indoor mask mandate as a simple but effective measure that can actually help slow transmission. And of course, we are continuing to work to make vaccines and the booster shots readily available to everyone who makes Illinois home."