CDPH Weekly COVID-19 Update

May 17, 2022

Chicago’s COVID-19 Level is Currently Medium, CDPH encourages everyone to receive boosters when eligible and order your 3rd round of federally issued at-home COVID tests

COVID-19 Joint Information Center    media.coronavirus@cityofchicago.org

CHICAGOThe Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported weekly COVID-19 statistics today and said the city remains in Medium on the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) COVID-19 Community Levels index.  

While severe outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths, continue to remain at or near all-time pandemic lows in the city of Chicago, Cook County (including Chicago) could move into the High Level soon based on case counts and regional hospital impact. This is because the CDC’s measurement of Cook County's hospitalization data for Community Levels reflects the burden on the whole federally defined Health Service Area, which includes Cook, Lake, DuPage, and McHenry Counties.  

However, even if this happens at the regional level, the City of Chicago would not immediately reinstate an indoor mask mandate, because severe outcomes in Chicago remain relatively rare and the burden of COVID-19 in our local hospitals remains low. Currently, the city of Chicago is seeing 4.9 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,0000 population per week and less than 4 percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Approximately twice as many Chicagoans would need to be hospitalized (greater than 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 per week or 10 percent of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients) for the city to consider reinstating a universal indoor mask mandate. 

CDPH continues to track and report COVID-19 hospital burden specifically for Chicago hospitals every day on its dashboard and uses this local hospital data to make mitigation decisions. As of yesterday, all Chicago hospitals combined reported fewer than 200 hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19: 153 non-ICU patients and 18 ICU patients across the whole system. 

While masks are not currently mandated indoors in the City of Chicago, CDPH strongly recommends individuals wear a mask in indoor public settings and continue with other COVID-19 mitigations: ensure everyone is up to date with vaccines and boosters; get tested if experiencing COVID-like symptoms; continue to follow quarantine and isolation guidelines; and stay home if you are sick. As the weather continues to warm up, CDPH also advises Chicago residents to gather outdoors, when possible, to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  

The federal government is offering a third round of free COVID-19 at home tests for every home in the U.S. Each order now includes 8 rapid antigen COVID-19 tests that will come in 2 separate packages (4 tests per package). Individuals can order at covid.gov/tests or by calling 1-800-232-0233. 

“Cases are still going up in Chicago, but at this point our city’s hospital and health care settings are far from being overwhelmed, mostly thanks to vaccines and boosters. Obviously I’m concerned that Cook County is getting closer to a High COVID-19 level and I strongly urge everyone to take this seriously and protect yourself and others,” said Allison Arwady, M.D., CDPH Commissioner. “It’s also critical to protect our health system, so if our Chicago hospital capacity started to be stretched, that’s the point where we’d consider reinstituting local mask mandates. We make decisions about citywide public health requirements based on data, and thankfully right now, our hospital system is still in a very good place.”  

Chicago Public Schools continues to strongly encourage all students and staff to wear masks indoors, and the CTA is encouraging riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Free masks are available on buses, at rail stations and in school settings across Chicago. Individual businesses or settings may enact their own mask or vaccination requirements, and patrons of those businesses should respect and adhere to such requirements. 

COVID-19 RISK

CDPH uses CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels to gauge the level of risk here in Chicago and updates data weekly. Should Cook County surpass 10 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the last 7 days, the County will move into High COVID-19 Community Level.  

Metrics
 

New Cases (per 100,000 people in last 7 days)

New COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population (7-day total)

Proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (7-day average)

  [GOAL is <200] [GOAL is
<10]
[GOAL is <10%]
City of Chicago 303 4.9 3.9%
Cook County (including City of Chicago) 338 8.0 2.5%

CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels can be Low, Medium, or High and are determined by looking at the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area; new local COVID-19 hospital admissions; and local ​hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients. Chicago metrics are calculated based on Chicago-level data (data as of 5/16/2022). Cook County metrics are calculated by the CDC and posted on the CDC Community Levels website (data as of 5/12/2022). 

BY THE NUMBERS

Over the last week, an average of 1,172 Chicagoans each day had a positive laboratory test for COVID-19, up from an average of 922 new cases per day the week prior. An average of 18 Chicagoans are being hospitalized with COVID-19 each day, similar to last week; and an average of one to two Chicagoans are dying from COVID-19 per week, still the lowest rate of the pandemic.  

Current test positivity is 6.2%, up from 4.9% last week. As a reminder, test positivity generally has a reduced utility due to the widespread use of point-of-care and at-home tests. That is why the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels do not rely on percent positivity to measure the impact of COVID-19 illness on communities.  

Additional data is available on the City’s COVID-19 dashboard at https://chi.gov/coviddash.

BOOSTER DOSE REMINDERS

CDPH strongly encourages all Chicagoans age 12 and older get a COVID-19 booster dose when they are eligible, especially seniors and people with underlying medical conditions who are at higher risk of severe complications. You are only considered up to date on COVID-19 vaccination if you have received a booster dose when eligible.

The City’s website now includes information about booster doses: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid19-vaccine/home/vaccination-data-at-a-glance.html

While 76 percent of Chicagoans age 12 and up have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series, just 41 percent have also had the recommended vaccine booster. People age 50 and over are also eligible for a second booster, but even among Chicagoans age 65 and older, just 58 percent have had even one booster.

The City continues to offer free Pfizer vaccines, including first and second boosters, to all Chicagoans through Protect Chicago At Home. Schedule an appointment at your home, on your schedule (including evenings and weekends) through chicago.gov/athome or by calling 312-746-4835.

Booster Eligibility

Everyone age 12 or over should have a vaccine booster at least five months after completing their initial vaccine series. Individuals ages 12-17 should receive a Pfizer booster. For individuals age 18 and older, Pfizer and Moderna are preferred over J&J for boosters.

Boosters are not yet available for children ages 5 to 11, though the FDA just authorized a pediatric Pfizer booster dose today. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the CDC, will be meeting this Thursday to consider recommending the pediatric booster. If ACIP and CDC give it the green light, pediatric boosters will be available immediately in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccines continue to be very effective in preventing hospitalization and death and booster doses strengthen protection against COVID-19​ ​that may have started to wane after the initial vaccination. 

In addition, CDC recommends certain individuals receive a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, four months after the first booster:

  • Adults 50 years and older 
  • Individuals 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised 
  • Anyone 18-49 who received the Janssen vaccine for both primary and booster doses 

Evidence suggests that a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine improves protection against severe COVID-19 and is not associated with new safety concerns.

VACCINATION

Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination remains the best way to prevent serious outcomes of COVID-19, including severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

  • More than 2 million Chicagoans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – that’s 82.2 percent of residents age 5 and older. And 73.5 percent have completed the vaccine series. 
  • Vaccinations and boosters remain free and widely available in Chicago:
    • Vaccines are available through hundreds of healthcare providers and pharmacies across the city, often without an appointment
    • Through Protect Chicago At Home, all Chicagoans age 5 and up are eligible to be vaccinated free of charge in their own home
      • Up to 10 people can be vaccinated per household, with weekend and evening appointments available
      • Call (312) 746-4835 to make an appointment or register at Chicago.gov/AtHome
    • Lastly, vaccines can be found at mobile vaccination events in partnership with community-based organizations, and at CPS locations throughout the week – a full calendar of events can be found at Chicago.gov/VaxCalendar

All COVID-19 vaccines in Chicago are offered at no cost, with no insurance and no government ID required. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in Chicago, visit Chicago.gov/COVIDvax.

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