Chicago and suburbs are moving to low levels of COVID-19 impact

Chicago and Cook County have moved from moderate to low levels of COVID-19 community levels, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health on Friday. This is the first time since early May that the area has been classified as weak from COVID-19.

“Reaching this threshold means fewer Chicagoans are being hospitalized with COVID-19 every day,” said Dr. However, Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady in a press release continued to stress the importance of vaccines and the ongoing presence of the coronavirus.

As of Thursday — 2½ years after the first pandemic shutdowns — the average number of new cases in Chicago was 383, down 14% from the previous week. Of the city’s hospital beds, an average of 3.6% are used for COVID-19, compared to 4.1% last week. And the city has averaged just one COVID-19-related death over the past few days. For comparison, in the early days before the pandemic was vaccinated, the loss of life in Chicago related to COVID-19 peaked at about 50 deaths per day on average.

Omicron subvariants account for 95% of new cases in Chicago, according to CDPH. An updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against these variants was made available to the public this month.

Community levels are a measure of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help communities determine what preventative measures need to be taken in an area. However, the basic guidelines for COVID-19 protection have not changed. This includes staying at home and getting tested if you are sick and wearing a mask in crowded indoor areas.

According to the CDC, Cook County’s low-level recommendations also include wearing a mask when traveling on public transportation and being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Cook County is one of 30 Illinois counties that transitioned from moderate or high COVID-19 community levels to low levels this week, a designation now shared by the entire Chicago area. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 36 counties in the state remain at elevated levels of COVID-19 impact.

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CDPH is encouraging people ages 12 and older to get the updated COVID-19 vaccine, known as a bivalent booster, before colder weather hits Chicago. As people spend more time indoors, the spread of respiratory viruses only gets worse, Arwady said.

The department also encourages everyone 6 months and older to get the flu shot.

As of Wednesday, 75,000 Chicagoans had received the booster shot, according to the CDPH. The city will host two vaccination clinics Saturday, one at Daley College and another at Wright College, both from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 19 received vaccine, the department said.

Illinois has a significant supply of booster shots that are particularly recommended for people over 50 and those with compromised immune systems, said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.

More than 135,000 doses of the bivalent booster were administered statewide last week, IDPH reports.

“This is an encouraging sign as we head into the fall season and face a potential increase in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions,” Vohra said in a press release.

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