Cook County at high risk for COVID-19 but expected to improve this week

Cook County has reentered the “high” risk for COVID-19 classification after being on the “medium” risk for just one week, state public health officials said.

There are now 20 Illinois counties that are rated at High Community Level, which indicates an elevated chance of contracting the virus and an increase in hospitalization rates.

As of Thursday night, there were 82 deaths since June 17 with 27,094 newly confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19. There also were 1,099 people hospitalized with COVID-19 with 114 of those patients in ICU and 32 patients on ventilators.

“With 67 counties at the Medium or High Community Level across Illinois, more than half of the counties in the state remain at an elevated level for community risk,” Illinois Department of Public Health’s acting director Amaal Tokars said in a statement Friday. “Everyone should be aware that they can play a part in limiting the spread of the virus.”

That part, Tokars said, was to make sure you are up to date on vaccinations and boosters — including children under 5 years old who are now able to receive the jab. It is recommended people wear masks in indoor public spaces in areas with elevated COVID-19 levels and avoid large indoor crowds.

Other counties considered high risk for COVID-19 are DuPage and Lake in northeastern Illinois; Adams, Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Fulton, Knox, Macon, Marshall, Montgomery, Peoria, Pike and Tazewell in central Illinois; and Johnson, Marion, Massac, Washington and Wayne in Southern Illinois.

Chicago public health officials said while Cook County’s case rate rose, the city saw fewer cases and hospitalizations.

“I know everyone wants COVID to be over,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. “Unfortunately, we continue to see the COVID virus itself mutate quickly, with new, more contagious subvariants emerging every few weeks.”

The good news, Arwady said, was Chicago is seeing a continued decline in rates. She expects the county will drop back to medium level on Friday when updated figures are released.

“This is a good reminder to make sure that you and everyone you love is up to date with vaccines — including boosters,” Arwady said. “And please, wear your mask — especially if you are in any crowded, indoor spaces. Take advantage of our summer weather and move higher-risk gatherings out of doors if you can, where ventilation is better and the risk of COVID transmission is lower.”

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