COVID-19 risk level increases to ‘medium’ in DuPage County as cases rise statewide
Three other Illinois counties have also seen their risk level elevated from “low” to “medium” under the latest CDC guidelines. The entire state was in the “low” category until about a month ago when coronavirus cases began to rebound.
The elderly and immunocompromised are now advised to mask up when gathering indoors in a swath of Chicago’s western suburbs as COVID-19 cases rise statewide.
A rise in cases and hospitalizations in DuPage County has moved it to the “medium” transmission category set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health officials said Friday.
Three other Illinois counties have also seen their risk level elevated from “low” to “medium” under the latest CDC guidelines. Those are Champaign, McLean and Piatt counties in the central region of the state.
The entire state was in the “low” category until about a month ago when coronavirus cases began to rebound. Nearly 2,800 Illinoisans have tested positive per day over the last week, a rate that has more than doubled since March 22 — and that doesn’t include at-home tests.
New COVID-19 cases by day
Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times
Source: Illinois Department of Public Health
Officials have attributed the state’s case rise to the more infectious BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, as well as an expected bump due to the lifting of mask mandates. Gov. J.B. Pritzker fell in line with a federal court’s ruling this week to lift mask requirements on public transit. The governor lifted the statewide mandate for facial coverings in most other public settings on Feb. 28.
The latest CDC-driven masking guidelines remain recommendations, not a mandate.
Pritzker and other leaders so far have downplayed the steady rise in cases, noting that severe cases resulting in hospitalization or death have remained near pandemic lows.
Hospital admissions have crept up across the state, with the 613 COVID patients occupying beds Thursday night marking the highest number since March 13.
Intensive care unit admissions are also at a one-month high, but the overall average rate of new hospital admissions per day has leveled off over the past few days, according to data kept by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The virus is still claiming about eight Illinois lives per day, almost as low as the death rate has been throughout the pandemic.
“The most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from severe health outcomes from COVID-19 is to remain up-to-date with our vaccinations,” acting Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Amaal Tokars said in a statement.
The state has started sending text messages to some residents reminding them they’re eligible for COVID-19 boosters.
About three-quarters of the state population have gotten at least one shot, and about half have been boosted.
For help finding a shot, visit chi.gov/covidvax or call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 312-746-4835.