Nineteen counties in Illinois, including several in the Chicago area, are now under “high community level” for COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of counties at the “high” level marks an increase from 15 last week, but some counties in the Chicago area that were under a high alert level last week have since dropped to a medium level.
Will, Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties in the Chicago area all remain in the top category, along with several others across the state.
But Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy and DeKalb counties are now at medium risk. Kankakee County is the only county in the Chicago area at a low community level, according to the CDC.
According to guidelines released by the CDC, a county is considered to be at a “high community level” of COVID when its average number of weekly cases per 100,000 population exceeds 200, and when it has an average of 10 weekly admissions to the COVID hospital or when it sees 10% or more of its hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.
Counties that achieve a high community level are urged to reinstate mask wearing for all people indoors, regardless of immunization status, and consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities. For an “average community level,” the designation means older or immunocompromised people are encouraged to wear masks in public indoor spaces.
Here’s what the CDC recommends for people in “high” level areas:
- Wear a properly fitted mask1 indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including K-12 schools and other indoor community settings)
- If you are immunocompromised or at high risk of serious illness
- Wear a mask or respirator that gives you better protection
- Consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you may be exposed
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to take any other precautions (eg, testing)
- Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (for example, having home testing or having access to testing)
- Talk to your health care provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
- If you have family or social contact with someone at high risk of serious illness
- consider self-testing to detect infection before contact
- remember to wear a mask when you are inside with them
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and reminders
- Maintain improved ventilation in interior spaces when possible
- Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
- Consider context-specific recommendations for prevention strategies based on local factors
- Implement surge support for health care as needed
- Protect people at high risk of serious illness or death by ensuring equitable access to vaccination, testing, treatment, support services and information
- Consider implementing testing or other testing strategies for those exposed to COVID-19 in workplaces, schools, or other community settings, as appropriate
- Implement enhanced prevention measures in high-risk gathering places (see guidance for correctional facilities and homeless shelters)
- Distribute and administer vaccines to achieve high community immunization coverage and ensure health equity
- Maintain better ventilation in public indoor spaces
- Ensure access to testing, including through point-of-care and home testing for all people
- Communicate with organizations and places that serve people who are immunocompromised or at high risk of serious illness to ensure they know how to get a rapid test
- Ensure access and equity in immunization, testing, treatment, community outreach and support services for disproportionately affected populations