Chicago Would Not Immediately Reinstate Mask Mandate Should Region Move Into ‘High’ COVID Risk, Officials Say – NBC Chicago

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Though Cook County could move into a level of high COVID-19 transmission by the end of the week, Chicago health officials say a mask mandate would not immediately return.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said the additional mandates wouldn’t be reinstated because severe outcomes of a coronavirus infection are “relatively rare” and the burden on hospitals remains “low.”

As of Tuesday, Cook County was at “medium community level” for COVID spread, and though mandates are not expected to return, CDPH recommended taking the following precautions to stay safe:

  • Wear a mask inside indoor public places
  • Ensure you’re up to date on COVID vaccinations and booster shots
  • Get tested and quarantine, if feeling the onset of symptoms
  • As the weather warms, try to gather outside
  • Those with underlying conditions, seek COVID treatment

“Just to be clear, if the county does move to that higher risk with the update later this week, the city of Chicago would be considered at a high risk for COVID because our cases are high and we’re starting to see some impact on hospitalizations, but we would not be reinstating mask mandates, for example, until we started – unless and until – we started to see serious impact on our hospitals here in Chicago,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

As of Friday, every Illinois county within the Chicago area was at a “medium community level” of COVID, according to CDC guidelines, though several were expected to reach the “high” level in this week’s upcoming update. Eight Illinois counties, however, are already at high community level risk for COVID: Boone, Lee, Stephenson, Winnebago, Champaign, Ford, Peoria and Tazewell.

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

According to the CDC, a county will be considered at a “high community level” of COVID-19 if it is seeing more than 200 new weekly COVID cases per 100,000 residents, and if it is…