Chicago-Area Counties Seeing ‘Substantial’ COVID Transmission – NBC Chicago

Chicago-Area Counties Seeing ‘Substantial’ COVID Transmission – NBC Chicago

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Every county in the Chicago area except one is seeing “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19, placing nearly the entire region in the category in which fully vaccinated people should resume wearing a mask indoors, federal health officials say.

Meanwhile, as coronavirus cases are once again on the rise, more Chicago companies are mandating vaccinations and masks.

And three winners have been chosen during the fourth $100,000 drawing of Illinois’ COVID vaccine lottery.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Bears NT Eddie Goldman Among 4 Players Placed on Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Chicago Bears have placed four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, including nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the virus.

Goldman, who has told media in the lead-up to training camp that he is vaccinated against the virus, was one of four players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the team.

That list is reserved for players who either test positive for the virus, or who are in quarantine after being in close contact with an infected individual.

Linebacker Christian Jones, long-snapper Pat Scales and offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson were also placed on the reserve list, the team announced Tuesday evening.

According to NFL rules, vaccinated individuals on the reserve/COVID-19 list will need to have negative results on two consecutive COVID tests before they will be allowed to rejoin the team.

Read more here.

Metro Chicago to Require Proof of COVID Vaccination at Upcoming Concerts, Venue Says

One of Chicago’s iconic music venues is taking matters into its own hands when it comes to new COVID-19 mitigations, requiring all concertgoers to show proof of vaccination and a photo-ID to attend events.

Metro Chicago, located in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood, made the announcement on its Twitter feed Tuesday afternoon. The venue says that all concertgoers will be required to show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, with their last dose administered at least 14 days prior to the show they are attending.

Customers will also be required to show government-issued photo ID to go along with the proof of vaccination, officials at Metro said.

Read more here.

Dr. Arwady Went Undercover at Lollapalooza. Here’s What She Says She Saw

Chicago’s top doctor said she went undercover at Lollapalooza last weekend to see how the festival was enforcing COVID-19 precautions and administering vaccines.

“I actually went through those gates multiple times not known,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “Like I put a hat on. I put glasses on. I put a mask on.”

Arwady explained she disguised her appearance because she wanted to go through the line similar to any other concert-goer and experience how the staff checked vaccination proof.

Rather than bringing the official COVID vaccination card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arwady said she brought a print-out from I-CARE, which was an accepted document.

“I was really pleased,” Arwady said. “These pepole didn’t know who I was. I was in the middle of a big crowd of other kids coming in. They stopped, they looked.”

As she walked through the check-in at the gate, Arwady noted that security looked through her document and checked to make sure she had two COVID vaccine shots and from which dates.

“We saw a lot of people getting turned away if they didn’t come with anything,” Arwady said. “But also if the dates weren’t good.”

Vaccine ambassadors for Chicago were on site, Arwady added, who provided information and signed people up for at-home appointments. Those city workers tracked data, along with Lollapalooza, and found that 90% of attendees showed proof of vaccination.

“Most music festivals across the U.S., really big ones even, are not having a testing or vaccination requirement,” Arwady said. “I don’t think that is wise with the increase in the delta variant.”

Read more here.

Will County Experiencing ‘High’ Transmission of Virus, CDC Says

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 96 of Illinois’ 102 counties are currently experiencing either “substantial” or “high” levels of transmission of COVID-19, and one county in the Chicago metropolitan area now finds itself in the latter category as cases of the virus surge.

According to the CDC, Will County is now seeing more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over the last seven days. The exact number is at 107.13 cases per 100,000 residents, meaning that it is in a growing group of counties that is seeing “high” transmission levels of the virus.

The county’s positivity rate has also climbed, moving up to 5.33%, its highest levels since a similar increase in COVID cases earlier this spring.

Hospital admissions are also up in the county, while the number of ICU beds being used for COVID patients is also slowly increasing, albeit not as quickly as other metrics.

Read more here.

Here’s When Chicago Could Enact a Mask Mandate, According to City’s Top Doctor

Chicago health officials provided recommendations last week that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks while indoors, stopping short of a citywide mandate.

But when could there be a face covering requirement?

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said a mask mandate is “under discussion,” but will not happen where the city’s COVID-19 data is as of Tuesday.

“We wouldn’t even consider a mandate unless we moved into at least that ‘high risk’ territory,” Arwady said. “We have not made a formal decision.”

Read more here.

Will Chicago Join NYC, Require Vaccines for Indoor Dining and Gyms? City’s Top Doc Answers

As New York City now requires proof of vaccination for indoor activities like dining, fitness and entertainment, could such a move be implemented in Chicago?

According to the city’s top doc, the answer is maybe, but not yet.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday that while the city is “interested” in the idea, there are no current plans to make such a move.

“I think at this point I’m certainly… we’re interested in this,” Arwady said. “We’ll be watching to see how this plays out, but we don’t have a current plan to do something like that at the city level.”

Arwady noted Chicago and Illinois are still working on technology to implement vaccine proof on such a grand scale, though she noted making such a requirement is “a really big decision.”

“I’ll tell you in New York City, there’s a couple things that are different. One is I think they have embraced this vaccine passport idea a little bit more than has been embraced here in the Midwest and across Illinois,” Arwady said. “We’ve been working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make it easier for people to be able to access their own vaccination records, thinking about some behind-the-scenes work to be able to have a more standard way for people to be able to show proof of vaccination, for example, because I do think where you’re thinking about doing some of this potentially at a larger level, you want to make sure that it can be operationalized in a way that makes sense.”

Read more here.

Chicago Adds 5 States, Puerto Rico to Travel Advisory as COVID Cases Continue to Rise

Chicago added five states and Puerto Rico to its travel advisory Tuesday, recommending that unvaccinated people entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.

Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Puerto Rico were all added to the list, bringing the total number of states on the advisory to 19, along with two U.S. territories.

The list now includes: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 

“As COVID cases rise throughout the country, the relationship between COVID and the unvaccinated remains clear,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, the states with the highest COVID case rates also have some of the lowest vaccination rates. The most important thing you can do to help stop the spread of COVID is to get vaccinated.”

Read more here.

Chicago to Update Travel Advisory as COVID Cases Continue to Rise

Chicago is set to update its travel advisory Tuesday, one week after adding nine additional states to the list recommending that anyone entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.

Last Tuesday, the city added nine states – for a total of 14 states and one territory – back to the advisory, which is updated each week.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming were all added last week, the Chicago Department of Public Health said. They joined Florida, Louisiana and Nevada, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were added the week before, plus Missouri and Arkansas which were added two weeks prior and all remained on the list.

Increases in COVID metrics pushed those newly added states over the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people to get onto the “orange” list. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

“Any unvaccinated people traveling from these states and territories are advised to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival. Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine or receive a negative test,” CDPH said.

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 234 per day – a 40% increase over the previous week.

That figure is also nearly seven times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains significantly lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing earlier this year and last, before vaccines were widely available.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are up 15% and deaths are up 60% from last week, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing is up to 3.3% as of Tuesday, an increase from 2.6% last week, which was up from 1.5% the week before and 1% three weeks prior.

Read more here.

Can Your Employer Require a Coronavirus Vaccine?

As coronavirus cases are once again on the rise fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, more Chicago companies are mandating vaccinations and masks.

Some employees and customers are pushing back against the rules, citing their freedom of choice, but Chicago attorney Tom Glasgow said the legal system is not on their side, at least not so far.

“You’re an employee at will,” said Glasgow, of Glasgow & Olsson. “They can mandate anything for you as a private employer.”

Glasgow pointed to a case in Houston, where more than 150 healthcare employees who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine were fired or resigned after a judge dismissed a lawsuit, filed by an employee, over the vaccination requirement.

The judge said that if the employees didn’t like the requirement, they could go work elsewhere.

“The court summarily dismissed it basing it in large part on the long history we have had of being able to mandate specific vaccines, Mumps, Measles, Rubella, etcetera, going all the way back to 1905, when we first mandated the small pox vaccine,” said Glasgow.

“If you don’t have a contract, or you’re not part of a collective bargaining unit, they can mandate whatever they see fit for the health, safety and welfare of other employees,” he said.

Read more here.

Business Owners Debate Additional COVID Measures as Cases Rise

As officials explore their options to try to limit recent increases in coronavirus cases, some business owners are taking matters into their own hands, requiring customers to wear masks or even requiring proof of vaccination for their employees.

In northeastern Illinois, all but one county is currently experiencing “substantial” or “high” transmission of coronavirus, including Cook County. That means that the CDC has recommended that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks.

Some businesses don’t believe that recommendation has gone far enough, and are implementing their own ideas.

The question of whether employers can mandate vaccines has been discussed at length in recent months, but in “at-will” employment situations, like those that exist in Illinois, the answer is clear: they can.

And large-scale national companies are adopting such rules, with Google, Walmart, Facebook and more mandating that certain employees be vaccinated against the virus.

Read more here.

$100K Illinois Vaccine Lottery Winners Chosen From Schaumburg, Springfield and Macon County

Three winners were chosen Monday during the fourth $100,000 drawing of Illinois’ COVID vaccine lottery.

The winners, located in Schaumburg, Springfield and Macon County, will be notified by the Illinois Department of Public Health by phone or email starting Monday afternoon. Each will be awarded a $100,000 cash prize.

“Illinoisans from those cities and counties should keep their phones on and check their emails regularly to find out if they’ve won,” IDPH said in a statement.

Health officials will call from 312-814-3524 and/or email from [email protected].

Read more here.

Every Chicago-Area County Except 1 Is Seeing ‘Substantial’ COVID Transmission and Should Mask Indoors, CDC Says

Every county in the Chicago area except one is seeing “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19, placing nearly the entire region in the category in which fully vaccinated people should resume wearing a mask indoors, federal health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance last week to recommend that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor settings again in areas of the U.S. that are seeing “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19.

The new guidance marked a reversal from earlier recommendations that said fully vaccinated people could remove masks in most settings.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker, a map showing levels of community transmission for each county in the U.S., every county in the Chicago area except Kankakee County is seeing “substantial” transmission.


Most of Illinois’ counties fall into either “substantial,” labeled in orange, or “high” transmission, labeled in red. Kankakee and five other counties across the state are seeing “moderate” transmission, labeled in yellow, while just one on the western border of the state is seeing “low” transmission colored in blue.

Read more here.

How to Find Out if You’re in an Area Where the CDC Recommends Masks Indoors

In which areas is the CDC recommending people wear masks indoors? The agency points to its COVID-19 data tracker showing levels of community transmission, along with other data, for each county in the U.S.

You can find that map here.

The agency uses a two measures to group U.S. counties into four levels of community transmission: the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percent of COVID-19 tests that are positive over the past week.

If a county has reported 50 to 100 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period or has a positivity rate of 8% to 10%, it falls into the “substantial transmission” tier, while those reporting 100 cases or more per 100,000 or have a positivity rate of at least 10% are labeled as “high transmission.” Those are the two groups for which the CDC recommends mask-wearing.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials Recommend Masks But Have ‘No Plans to Shut Down’ City as COVID Cases Rise

Chicago officials have recommended everyone wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, but on Sunday said there are “no plans to shut down” the city again as COVID-19 metrics continue to rise.

“In Chicago, we can be open and be careful,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference Sunday. “We have no current plans to shut down Chicago again.”

Chicago passed a key threshold Friday when the average number of daily new COVID cases surpassed 200 per day, officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance last week to recommend that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor settings again in areas of the U.S. that are seeing “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19.

More than 200 new daily cases in Chicago puts the city in the “sustantial” transmission category, officials said, and while that figure has been increasing steadily for weeks, it’s still far below the numbers seen in the previous surges of the pandemic.

And hospitalizations, while also increasing, are still staying at a “low transmission” level, with an average of eight new admissions per day, according to Arwady.

As a result, Arwady and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday that they have no plans to implement more regulations and mitigations against COVID, and are instead leaning on the new CDC guidance that everyone should resume wearing masks indoors.

“Being careful means getting vaccinated. When you get vaccinated, first and foremost you are protecting yourself,” Arwady said. “When our numbers are higher, you put on a mask. When you put on a mask, you predominantly are protecting others. These two things working together help us to be careful as a city, and to stay open.”

Read more here.

‘It Is Not Forever’: Chicago Officials Urge Residents to Wear Masks Amid COVID-19 Increases

Days after the city of Chicago and Cook County were deemed to have “substantial” transmission of COVID-19, triggering new recommendations that all residents wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, city officials are urging cooperation with the new guidelines, saying that they are a temporary step to helping tamp down on the delta variant-fueled spread of the disease.

“I know it’s hard, especially for people who are vaccinated, to feel like they have to put a mask on. It feels like we’re taking a step backwards, but when you do that, you help protect people who have not yet been vaccinated,” she said.

The city’s new recommendations mirror the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, which call for all individuals, regardless of whether they are vaccinated against COVID or not, to wear masks in areas where there is “substantial” or “high” levels of transmission of COVID-19.

Read more here.

Pritzker Skips Lollapalooza ‘Out of an Abundance of Caution’ Amid Rising COVID Cases

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker publicly said he would attend Lollapalooza this weekend in Chicago, but later decided not to attend amid rising COVID cases in the state, his office said Sunday.

Pritzker said last week that he planned to attend the four-day music festival, but said Sunday that he would not, citing rising case numbers and a new CDC finding that vaccinated individuals can potentially transmit coronavirus to others.

“Out of an abundance of caution, with cases on a sharply increasing trajectory and with the CDC’s finding Friday that vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus, the governor did not attend Lollapalooza,” his press secretary said.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 11,682 New COVID Cases, 39 Deaths, 154K Vaccinations in the Past Week

Illinois health officials on Friday reported 11,682 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, along with 39 additional deaths and more than 154,000 new vaccine doses administered.

COVID cases statewide have increased 46% over the last week, with hospitalizations up 35%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Intensive care unit admissions also increased by 24% and there was a 41% increase of COVID patients on ventilators.

In all, 1,419,611 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 23,440 confirmed COVID fatalities.

The state has administered 289,433 tests since last Friday, officials said, bringing the total to more than 26 million tests conducted during the pandemic.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests rose to 4% from 3.3% the week before and 1.9% two weeks prior. The rolling average seven-day positivity rate on individuals tested rose to 4.7%, up from 3.5% last week, officials said.

IDPH noted, however, that the regional seven-day positivity rate ranges from 2.8% to 9.5%.

Over the past seven days, a total of 154,447 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Illinois residents. That brings the state’s average to 22,064 daily vaccination doses over the last week, down from the figures reported last Friday, per IDPH data.

State officials in Illinois have administered more than 13 million vaccine doses since vaccinations began in December. More than 58% of adult residents in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 74% receiving at least one dose.

As of midnight, 903 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 167 are in ICU beds, and 62 are on ventilators. All three metrics are a reported increase since last Friday.

Cook County Updates Guidance to Recommend Masks Indoors Regardless of Vaccination Status

Cook County updated its guidance on masking and other COVID-19 precautions Friday, recommending everyone wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as health officials say the region is seeing “substantial” community transmission.

The Cook County Department of Public Health issued new policies one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed the county into the “substantial” transmission category, triggering the CDC’s recommendation to resume indoor masking under its new guidance released Tuesday.

In alignment with the CDC, CCDPH said it “strongly recommends” the following: 

  • Individuals over 2 years of age should wear a mask in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. 
  • Fully-vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID should be tested 3-5 days following the exposure and wear a mask indoors as above · Fully-vaccinated people may wish to mask outdoor in crowded settings. CCDPH fully endorses this action. 
  • Guidance has not changed for unvaccinated individuals: masks should be worn indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, regardless of the community transmission level. 

CCDPH said it also continues to recommend its previous guidance that all people in school settings – teachers, staff, students, and visitors – should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status and community transmission level.

The department is also encouraging people to mask indoors or in crowded outdoor settings regardless of community transmission.

Masks are still required for everyone older than 2 on public transportation or at any indoor transportation hub, as well as in health care and long-term care settings, CCDPH said.

Read more here.

Pritzker Requires Masks for Everyone in Illinois State Buildings

Citing an increase in COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an order Thursday requiring that everyone who enters a state building wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status.

In a news release, Dr. Nzogi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, explained the masking directive adds another layer of protection for state employees and those Illinois serves.

“Vaccination is still the best protection against both the older and newer variants that cause COVID-19,” she stated. “And until more people get vaccinated and transmission decreases, masking will help protect us all.”

According to guidance released Thursday, state employees must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth while in a workplace or performing work duties in indoor settings outside of their residence, unless a medical condition prevents them from doing so. Employees are also advised to maintain physical distance of at least six feet “at all times or as much as reasonably possible.”

Visitors over 2 years old are required to wear face coverings while inside state offices and facilities. An exception is made if individuals “are unable to medically tolerate a face covering,” the guidance stated.

Read more here.

Here’s How the Delta Variant Symptoms Differ From the Initial COVID Strain

About 83 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been fueled by the delta variant, and as the surge continues, the number of associated cases is expected to rise even higher in the coming weeks, according to health officials.

Approximately one month ago, on June 19, the delta variant accounted for just over 30 percent of new cases. On July 3, it crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the dominant variant in the U.S. Public health experts nationwide have focused their efforts on encouraging vaccinations as most of those who’ve contracted the variant haven’t been vaccinated.

Studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. However, when it comes to symptoms, there appear to be key differences.

Here’s what you need to know.

Delta Variant: What to Know About the New Coronavirus Strain Causing a Surge in COVID Cases

Public health officials are sounding alarm bells throughout the United States, as the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has led to a massive surge in cases in recent weeks.

What exactly is the delta variant? What makes it different from previous strains of the COVID-19 virus? Do vaccines protect you against it?

Here’s an exhaustive list of what we know so far about the variant itself and what is being seen in Chicago and Illinois.

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