COVID rates Chicago: CDC, health experts urge caution for Mother’s Day weekend gatherings as cases rise

CHICAGO (WLS) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Chicago was now in the middle transmission risk level just before Mother’s Day, warning experts of another possible surge.

That’s why authorities are urging people to wear masks and avoid gatherings altogether if they show symptoms of COVID-19.

Doctors have also said a home test might not even detect the virus if symptoms are mild.

At this time, Chicago officials do not require masks, but strongly recommend wearing them, especially in indoor spaces.

Chicago and suburban counties are now at the “average” community level, with more than 200 new cases per 100,000 reported in the past seven days.

“You want to be very careful,” said Dr. Susan Bleasdale, director of infection prevention at UI Health. “If you are visiting your mother and there is someone vulnerable, if you are going to visit her, you can choose to wear a mask for the duration of your visit together.”

If Chicago moves from an average community level to a “high” level, more mitigations would be possible, but that would require a sharp increase in hospitalizations, which have increased but only moderately.

Illinois COVID Cases

Illinois reported 7,709 new COVID cases and seven deaths on Friday, as the CDC said nine Chicago-area counties had reached “medium” risk of transmission.

As of Friday, there had been at least 3,169,315 total COVID cases, including at least 33,660 related deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

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As of Thursday evening, 808 Illinois patients were in hospital with COVID-19. Of these, 66 patients were in intensive care and 24 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 22,018,536 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Thursday, and 64.76% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines given daily is 14,163.

Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage, Will, DeKalb, Kendall and Winnebago counties have “medium” COVID risk levels, according to the CDC.

“You know, especially that 0-19 age group, they’re reporting the most cases every day,” said Chris Hoff of the DuPage County Health Department. “But we are seeing increases across all age groups in the community.”

In an email to families and staff at Chicago Public Schools, CEO Pedro Martinez said the district will continue to “strongly encourage the use of masks in our schools, especially among our unvaccinated students, and especially when the cases increase”. But the school system followed the city’s lead in opting against a mandate.

“As we have done since the start of the pandemic, CPS will continue to follow the recommendations of the Chicago Department of Public Health when making decisions about the impact of this change on our schools,” Martinez wrote. in the email.

The district has fought off efforts in recent months by a group of parents and an upstate attorney general candidate to dump all COVID-19 precautions in schools. Martinez announced that CPS would drop its mask mandate in March just a week after reaffirming the school system’s commitment to face coverings. Although his announcement cited a sharp drop in cases, he went on to imply that the move was to preemptively avoid a pending court ruling that would have blocked the CPS’s ability to mandate masks in the future. He assured families, however, that the CPS would reinstate the requirement if cases rose again.

Although masks are still not required at this time, the district will continue its policy of isolating unvaccinated students and staff, requiring those exposed to COVID-19 to work or learn from home for five days, then to wear a mask at school for the next five days.

Sun-Times Media contributed to this report.

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