CDPH COVID-19 Update: Cook County Drops to Low COVID-19 Community Level Based on CDC Metrics

September 23, 2022

Bivalent boosters widely available, City hosting two flu/COVID-19 vaccination clinics tomorrow

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

CHICAGO – COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates are steadily improving in Chicago and Cook County—moving both the city and county from the Medium into the Low COVID-19 Level for the first time since early May, according to the latest Community Level metrics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today.

“I am so pleased to see our region move into a Low COVID-19 Level, because hitting this threshold means that fewer Chicagoans are being hospitalized with COVID-19 every day. Thank you to every Chicagoan who has gotten us here--by testing at the first sign of symptoms, by masking in crowded public settings, and especially by staying up-to-date with COVID vaccines,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D.

As the region moves into the Low Community Level, masking recommendations may be relaxed in many—but not all—settings. “COVID is very much still with us, and health care and other settings serving more vulnerable Chicagoans may maintain masking policies,” said Dr. Arwady. “Also, even at a Low Community Level, the most basic COVID-19 guidance does not change. Stay home if you are sick and get tested for COVID. Consider wearing a well-fitting mask like a KN95 in crowded indoor settings, especially if you are at high risk for severe illness. Ask your doctor about anti-viral COVID medication if you do get sick. And, most importantly, come up-to-date on your vaccines before cold weather sets in.”

This fall, all Chicagoans over the age of 6 months should both get an annual flu shot and come up-to-date with COVID vaccines. For those age 12 and up, this includes getting the newly updated COVID vaccine, known as a bivalent booster, that became available this month.

The bivalent booster is the first update to the original COVID vaccine, designed to better protect against the dominant Omicron subvariants BA.4/BA.5 that currently make up more than 95% of COVID-19 cases in Chicago. The updated vaccine has been designed specifically to protect against those variants, as well as to boost protection against severe outcomes from COVID. The bivalent booster generates a stronger immune response against current variants as well as potential for broader protection against future variants. All residents 12 and older who have completed a primary vaccine series are eligible to get the new bivalent booster vaccine two months after their most recent vaccine or booster.

“Colder weather is coming and residents are starting to move indoors, which is traditionally when we see respiratory virus rates rise. Please don’t wait to get vaccinated this year. Do it now to protect yourself, your family, and our whole city,” said Dr. Arwady.

As of September 21, more than 75,000 doses of the updated booster have been administered to Chicagoans. Of those, 63 percent have gone to White/non-Latinx residents, 14 percent to Black/non-Latinx residents, 12 percent to Latinx residents, and 8 percent to Asian residents. In addition, 38 percent of doses have gone to residents age 60 or older.

“CDPH and the City are doubling down on outreach to communities of color, where the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact,” said Dr. Arwady. “As a reminder, all Chicagoans over the age of 6 months should have a flu shot every year. All Chicagoans over the age of 6 months should come up to date with COVID vaccines, which for those age 12 and up includes getting the updated COVID bivalent booster now. Please do this before the weather turns cold, to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.” There are hundreds of vaccine locations across the city, from pharmacies to clinical sites to pop-up sites.

Of Chicagoans currently eligible to receive the new booster vaccine, 35 percent are White/non-Latinx, 27 percent are Latinx, 23 percent are Black/non-Latinx, and 8 percent are Asian. In addition, 23 percent of those eligible are age 60 or older.

The City is hosting two flu/COVID-19 vaccination clinics tomorrow, Saturday, September 24 at Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski Rd., and Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett Ave. Both are open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is recommended, but walk-ins will be accommodated. Primary series COVID vaccines for Chicagoans 6 months and up will be offered, as well as bivalent boosters for those who are eligible. Additional flu/COVID-19 vaccination clinics at City College locations will be held throughout the fall.

CDPH is offering $50 gift cards as incentives for each dose of COVID-19 vaccine to patients age 5 and older while supplies last. Incentives are limited, and likely this will be the last weekend they will be offered. To qualify, patients must verify that they have not already received more than $100 in COVID-19 incentives. Gift cards will be delivered by mail, not at the time of the appointment.

In addition, CDPH has scheduled dozens of mobile vaccination events in the coming weeks to administer bivalent booster vaccines and flu vaccines for high-risk populations such as senior centers, CHA facilities and other congregate living settings, as well as general vaccination events all over the city in partnership with aldermen and community and religious organizations.

Details about the new bivalent booster vaccine can be found at Chicago.gov/Boost. Residents can find out where to get the updated vaccine at vaccines.gov or by calling the City at (312) 746-4835.

COVID-19 By the Numbers

The number of new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days across Cook County was 116 (137 last week), and the number of new weekly hospital admissions per 100,000 population was 9.6 (10.7 last week). The percentage of staffed inpatient beds in Cook County in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19 was 3.8 percent (4.3 percent last week).

The City’s COVID-19 weekly case rate per 100,000 population is 100 (108 last week), and the number of new weekly hospital admissions per 100,000 population is 6.6 (8.3 last week). The percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 is 3.6 percent (4.3 percent last week).

Based on the latest data from CDC, Cook County levels are as follows.

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 100 6.6% 3.6%
Cook County (including City of Chicago) 116 9.6% 3.8%
Cook County metrics are calculated by the CDC and posted on the CDC Community Levels website (data as of 9/22/2022).

The CDC determines COVID-19 Community Levels as Low, Medium, or High, based on the number of new local COVID-19 cases, regional COVID-19 hospital admissions, and COVID-19 hospital capacity in the prior week. The Levels were developed to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest local COVID-19 data.

When the CDC updates its COVID-19 Community Levels national map each week, the City of Chicago and suburban Cook County data are combined into one weekly case metric for Cook County. Hospitalization data, in contrast, reflect a burden on the whole federally defined Health Service Area, which includes hospitals in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and McHenry counties.

CDPH also 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 further mitigation decisions. Visit chi.gov/coviddash for the Chicago COVID-19 daily data dashboard.

COVID-19 Community Levels in the U.S. by County

Nationwide, cases continue to decline, with less than 50 percent of the U.S. either at the Medium or High Level. Earlier this summer the percentage of counties at the Medium or High Levels was at times as high as 80 percent. In Illinois, 20 of the state’s 102 counties are at a High COVID-19 Level (nine fewer than last week). Travelers should review CDPH’s travel guidance and check the CDC map to know whether areas they are visiting are Low, Medium, or High risk for COVID-19 and take proper precautions.

  Community Level Number of Counties Percent of Counties % Change from Prior Week
  High

226
(431 last week)

7.02% -6.73%
  Medium

1,006
(1,157 last week)

31.24% -4.66%
  Low

1,988
(1,635 last week)

61.74% 11.38%

For additional COVID-19 news, see CDPH’s weekly update or visit Chicago.gov/COVID.

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