CDPH Weekly COVID-19 Update

May 24, 2022

Chicago’s COVID-19 Level is currently Medium—could go to High later this week
CDPH encourages everyone to receive boosters when eligible:
including first boosters for children 5-11, second booster for adults 50+

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

CHICAGO—The 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, although it could move to the High Level later this week.

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, it is likely 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 on 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 4.5 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 208 hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 (up from 171 last week): 180 non-ICU patients and 28 ICU patients across the whole system of more than 30 hospitals. For comparison, at the peak of the initial Omicron surge in early January 2022, Chicago had nearly 10 times as many patients hospitalized with COVID: more than 1600 non-ICU beds plus more than 300 ICU beds across Chicago hospitals were occupied by patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

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. Chicagoans with underlying conditions or who are older should also seek early treatment if they are diagnosed with COVID-19, to decrease the risk of hospitalization.

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.

“Case counts are high in Chicago, as they are in many other parts of the country, but our city’s hospital and healthcare settings are far from being overwhelmed, largely because so many residents are vaccinated and early treatments are available,” said Allison Arwady, M.D., CDPH Commissioner. “But I remain concerned as our region is close to reaching a High Level. I urge people: if you are not vaccinated or boosted, now is the time to do it.”

BOOSTER DOSES

CDPH strongly encourages all Chicagoans age 5 and older to 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 CDC expanded eligibility of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses to children ages 5 to 11 years old last week. This means everyone aged 5 and older should receive a vaccine booster at least five months after completing their initial vaccine series. Individuals ages 5-17 should receive a Pfizer booster. For individuals age 18 and older, Pfizer and Moderna are preferred over J&J for boosters.

In announcing approval for 5 to 11 year-olds to receive boosters, the CDC noted that since the pandemic began, more than 4.8 million children ages 5 through 11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 15,000 have been hospitalized and, tragically, over 180 have died. As cases increase across the country, a booster dose will safely help restore and enhance protection against severe disease.

In addition, adults 50 and older, as well as individuals 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, should receive a second booster dose of either the PfizerBioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, four months after the first booster.

“While we have made great progress with overall vaccination rates in Chicago, we need to get more people boosted with first and second boosters,” said Dr. Arwady. “To date only 42 percent of all residents age 12 and up have had a booster dose. Only 26 percent of Black residents have been boosted. And among our most vulnerable residents, those age 65 and up, only 58 percent have had even a first booster, much less the recommended second booster. I really want to see those numbers increase and our hospital numbers stay low.”

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.

The City’s website now includes data about first booster doses: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid19-vaccine/home/covid-19-vaccine-coverage.html

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 per week, the County will move into High COVID-19 Community Level. Most recently, this county metric was at 9.8--and with cases and hospitalizations continuing to rise, it is likely that Cook County will move into High by the end of the week.  

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 290 4.9 4.5%
Cook County (including City of Chicago) 367 9.8 3.0%

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 5/24/2022). Cook County metrics are calculated by the CDC and posted on the CDC Community Levels website (data as of 5/20/2022). 

BY THE NUMBERS

The local increase in COVID-19 cases has slowed, though case counts remain very high. Over the last week, an average of 1,123 Chicagoans each day had a positive laboratory test for COVID-19, down from an average of 1,252 new cases per day the week prior. An average of 19 Chicagoans are being hospitalized with COVID-19 each day and an average of one to three Chicagoans are dying from COVID-19 per week, still the lowest rate of the pandemic.

Current test positivity is 6.3%, similar to the rate of 6.4% from last week. As a reminder, test positivity now 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 n

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

COVID-19 TESTS

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.

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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