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Chicago well being officers introduced Friday that indoor masking is as soon as once more “strongly advisable” — however not required — within the metropolis as the danger of contracting COVID-19 in Prepare dinner County has elevated.

Chicago’s public well being Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady made the advisory after the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention deemed Prepare dinner County is now within the “medium” threat degree for group transmission. The metrics are based mostly on a mixture of latest circumstances and hospitalizations, however the medium class is mechanically reached if weekly circumstances surpass 200 constructive checks per 100,000 residents.

Arwady burdened that although the county was within the medium threat class town is just not close to reinstating mandates on indoor masking or proof-of-vaccination, although Chicago Public Colleges and the Chicago Transit Authority are also “encouraging” indoor masking.

“Chicago shifting into the medium degree doesn’t imply a citywide masks mandate, restrictions on public gatherings, or reinstatement of vaccination necessities right now,” Arwady stated in an announcement. “With the way in which the present COVID variants are behaving, these are measures we might contemplate if we reached the excessive COVID-19 group degree — which we aren’t near reaching in Chicago proper now.”

At CPS, workers and oldsters acquired a letter from CPS CEO Pedro Martinez stating that the district will “proceed strongly encouraging the usage of masks in our colleges,” particularly amongst unvaccinated college students, nevertheless it won’t restore the masks mandate it dropped in March. Martinez stated within the letter that CPS will comply with the suggestions of the Chicago Division of Public Well being.

Martinez famous the positivity price of the district’s in-school COVID-19 testing program is 0.68% whereas town’s positivity price is 3.9%. The 0.68% positivity price is the best for the district’s testing program since January, close to the top of the extremely contagious omicron variant. CPS case numbers have been rising since college students returned from spring break final month.

Final month, Arwady urged a medium degree designation might result in a reinstated masks mandate at CPS, however this week she stated solely at excessive threat will any type of a masks requirement be put in place.

Technically this previous week, town of Chicago stood at 195 new circumstances per 100,000 residents — slightly below the 200-case threshold. However Arwady stated town would comply with Prepare dinner County if the county broke 200 circumstances per 100,000 first. Prepare dinner County is at 259 circumstances per 100,000 residents, in keeping with CDC knowledge. Nonetheless, COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU capability stay low for each town and the county.

The developments come one week after suburban Prepare dinner County areas reached the medium threat degree, prompting officers to additionally advocate indoor masking, and as COVID-19 numbers climb throughout Illinois.

Statewide, well being officers on Friday reported 7,709 new confirmed and possible circumstances of COVID-19, a degree not seen since early February. Over the previous week, the state has averaged 4,376 new circumstances per day, up from a mean of 1,426 each day circumstances only one month in the past.

Whereas the CDC solely tracks its group ranges on a county-by-county foundation, Illinois as an entire has a weekly case price of 240 per 100,000 residents. Along with Prepare dinner County, all 5 collar counties and eight others in northern and central Illinois at the moment are at medium degree, the place older residents and people with compromised immune programs are inspired to put on masks indoors.

Nonetheless, Amaal Tokars, appearing director of the Illinois Division of Public Well being, stated in assertion Friday that the company “would stress this (is) not a trigger for alarm.”

These at larger threat for extreme outcomes from COVID ought to “train warning,” and everybody ought to be certain that they’re updated on their vaccinations, she stated.

The variety of sufferers hospitalized with COVID-19, whereas nonetheless comparatively low, is also growing statewide.

As of Thursday evening, there have been 808 COVID-19 sufferers in hospitals statewide, up from 515 a month earlier. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 hit an all-time excessive of seven,380 on Jan. 12, the peak of the winter surge pushed by the omicron variant.

Deaths have remained low, with the state averaging seven per day over the previous week, together with seven reported Friday. In all, the statewide dying toll stands at 33,660 for the reason that pandemic started.

Chicago Tribune’s Dan Petrella contributed.

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