Chicago Department of Public Health Weekly Media Brief, 8/11/2023

August 11, 2023

CDPH Public Information

Jump Ahead

COVID-19 Is Still With Us

The country has experienced a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations of late, a reminder that COVID is still with us, although Chicago remains at a very low rate of transmission.

The dominant variant in the country right now is EG.5, a descendant of the XBB strain – all of which are Omicron subvariants. This fall’s COVID-19 vaccines are designed to specifically target the XBB subvariant. This week on Facebook Live , CDPH Commissioner Dr. Arwady discussed the slight increase in cases and what the current data is telling us. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, the guidelines remain the same:  

  • Stay home and isolate on days 1-5. If symptoms improve, you can end isolation, but wear a mask around others for days 6-10.  

  • If you're over 65 or at high risk for severe illness, contact a healthcare provider about treatment options. 

Medicaid Redetermination Continues

We are going through an unprecedented moment for Medicaid and health insurance coverage right now. Prior to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), people enrolled in Medicaid needed to renew their eligibility for Medicaid, but during the PHE that process was paused, meaning that people could keep their health insurance. Since the PHE ended on May 11, Medicaid redeterminations have largely resumed across the country and as of August 1st, over 47,000 Illinois residents have lost Medicaid coverage, according to the State.    

During this unwinding process, CDPH anticipates the highest rates of disenrollment will be in  communities already facing challenges, and the department aims to support strategies that ensure every Chicagoan has affordable and high-quality health insurance coverage, Michael Cabonargi, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, joined Dr. Arwady’s Facebook Live Show this week and talked about Medicaid redetermination (starting at the 27:56 mark).

Also, Mervin Dino, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Community Health, joined Dr. Luna’s Facebook Live Show in Spanish and talked about Medicaid redetermination (starting at the 28:00 mark).

Chicago Reaches 50,000 Mpox Vaccinations

This past week, Chicago surpassed 50,000 mpox vaccinations administered since the start of the outbreak in summer 2022. Vaccinations have been an instrumental part of Chicago’s success in fighting the mpox outbreak, and that would not have been possible without an engaged and informed community.  

From June 2022 through the week ending August 5, 2023, the total number of mpox vaccine doses that have been administered in Chicago stood at 50,013. That breaks down to 30,435 first doses; 19,578 second doses. It was only a year ago that Chicago was experiencing more than 100 new mpox cases per week. CDPH worked with community and healthcare partners to get vaccines out into the community to stem the tide of the outbreak, and people in the LGBTQ community, who were overwhelmingly impacted by mpox, stepped up, got vaccinated, got informed, and shared knowledge with others. 

As a result, the outbreak was quelled, and currently new mpox cases are down more than tenfold from where they were last summer.   

Disparities do exist among ethnic and racial groups around mpox vaccination, and mpox has not been eliminated completely. CDPH continues to work with community partners on public awareness about mpox. For more information, including the latest data and where to get a vaccine, go to

Providing Family Planning to Illinois

Late last year, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) launched a new Family Planning Program as a supplemental insurance benefit that will increase access to needed reproductive health care. Eligible Illinois residents, regardless of age or gender, can now receive health and related services through this HFS program.  

Services through the Family Planning Program include:  

  • Education for preconception and fertility awareness 

  • Services and medications to prevent or plan pregnancy  

  • Cancer screenings 

  • STI testing and treatment  

  • Transportation for family planning visits  

Illinois residents who are not currently pregnant, not enrolled in standard Medicaid or another full coverage state medical program, and has an individual monthly income at or below $3,500 are eligible for this program. Even if you already have private insurance, there is a possibility that you could be under-insured for family planning care. You can still sign up through the HFS Family Planning Program to get this coverage. 

If you think you’re eligible, consider signing up for the program! Applications are similar to how you sign up for Medicaid. When you get started with the application, you need to make sure you check “YES” next to “Apply for the Family Planning Program?” To apply, visit, or call 1-800-843-6154.