Chicagoans who travel to portions of the U.S. designated as medium or high COVID-19 community levels by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID, according to the city's travel advisory.
Citing an update to the CDC's county-by-county community levels map, the Chicago Department of Public Health on Friday said 9.7% of U.S. counties were listed at either medium or high community levels.
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.
Many areas across the U.S. are experiencing low community levels, but regions such as the Northeast and New England continue to have a large cluster of medium to high-level counties.
With COVID cases rising in Chicago, the city could be elevated to medium level community status in the next one to two weeks, officials stated. That change has already happened in suburban Cook County, which crossed the threshold designated by the CDC earlier this week.
So, what should you do if you visit an area considered as a medium or high community level?
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 areas designated as high community levels, people are advised to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
As of Friday, the five following Illinois counties were listed as medium community levels: Champaign, DuPage, Lake, Mason and McLean counties. A week earlier, four counties were listed in the category, including Champaign and DuPage counties, which made the list again.
Other portions of the Midwest with clusters of medium COVID levels include the southeast corner of Minnesota, northern Michigan and an area of southern Wisconsin around Madison, as shown on the CDC map.