What officials recommend Memorial Day weekend as city hits ‘high’ COVID level – NBC Chicago

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UPDATE: Several counties in Illinois are now at “high community level” for the virus, including several in the Chicago area. Read the latest update here.

Chicago health officials said no warrants are expected until Memorial Day weekend, despite the region’s likely transition to a “high” community alert level, but residents should take certain precautions.

On Friday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady urged people who plan to gather for the holiday weekend to do so outside or wear masks if they find themselves in indoor public spaces.

“One of the simplest things we can do to mitigate the risk of COVID is most things outdoors or having a party outdoors,” she said. “For me, that eases my worry and I know people are coming together for Memorial Day, if you can do it, especially for someone who is at higher risk, I highly recommend it.”

Arwady said while gatherings are not discouraged, she urged people to “be careful and cautious”.

“If someone is visiting, we are seeing people, travel is a risk factor,” she said. “I would just encourage if you have people coming into town and you’re worried about it, take some of those home tests – you take a test that day, if everyone is negative, the chance you have a A major COVID outbreak or super spread event is pretty low so it’s a matter of thinking about the risk of who’s there, what’s available, but the good thing during the summer is that we can be outdoors as much as possible and I encourage you to do so.”

Arwady said the city, along with Cook County, will likely reach a high community alert level, under guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this week. CDC data is expected to be updated Thursday evening.

“We expect to move to the top end,” Arwady said on Thursday. “From tomorrow we will make an official update, but that’s what we expect.”

According to the CDC, a county will be considered at a “high community level” of COVID-19 if it sees more than 200 new weekly COVID cases per 100,000 residents, and if it sees 10 or more new COVID admissions per 100 000 inhabitants. residents per week, or if it sees 10% or more use of hospital beds by COVID patients.

As of Friday, every Illinois county in the Chicago area was at a “medium community level” of COVID-19, according to CDC guidelines, although several were expected to reach the “high” level in the next update to this report. week. However, eight counties in Illinois are already at high risk for COVID at the community level: Boone, Lee, Stephenson, Winnebago, Champaign, Ford, Peoria and Tazewell.

Evanston, a northern suburb just outside of Chicago, also said it is currently at a “high” community level.

In Cook County, 367.34 new weekly cases per 100,000 population were reported last Friday, along with 9.8 new COVID admissions per 100,000 population per week.

DuPage, Lake, and McHenry counties are also included in this hospitalization group (a group of counties that the CDC classifies together due to health service patterns and proximity).

CDC officials say DeKalb, Kane and Kendall counties are seeing 8.1 new admissions per 100,000 residents, meaning these three counties could also be in the “high community level” range by this week. .

In the event a county reaches a “high community level” of COVID, residents are advised to wear masks indoors regardless of COVID vaccination status.

Residents who are immunocompromised or who live in a household with such residents are urged to consider avoiding “non-essential indoor activities” and to consult with their doctor about any additional measures that may be necessary.

While city and county health officials haven’t definitively said a move to the “high community level” could trigger a new mask mandate, some have indicated such a strategy could be implemented. in the event of pressure being exerted on medical facilities.

Arwady said that’s not yet the case for Chicago.

“Just to be clear, if the county moves to this higher risk with the update later this week, the city of Chicago would be considered at high risk for COVID because our cases are high and we are starting to see an impact on hospitalizations, but we wouldn’t reinstate mask mandates, for example, until we start — unless and until — we start to see a serious impact on our hospitals here in Chicago. »

The change in alert status would come just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

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