Chicago Department of Public Health Weekly Media Brief

March 22, 2023

CDPH Media


For Immediate Release
March 22, 2023
Chicago Department of Public Health 
Weekly Media Brief 

Bracket busted? Instead of watching March Madness, get outside and get moving!

This spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eight healthy habits to help prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The number one driver of Chicago’s Black-white life expectancy gap is chronic disease. Education around healthy habits is just a piece of the work to create a Healthy Chicago.

#AskDrArwady Recap

This week, CDPH Deputy Commissioner for Behavioral Health Matt Richards joined Dr. Arwady to discuss the City’s expansion of mental health services, including services now available in all 77 community areas. They also discussed expansion of the City’s alternative 911 response team, known as CARE, now operating in the Loop, as well as the ongoing partnership with Chicago Public Libraries to distribute opioid overdose prevention resources (Narcan and fentanyl test strips) and for mental health clinicians to offer counseling services at select library branches.  Watch a recap of their discussion here.

Coming Up on #AskDrArwady: 

  • Tuesday, March 28: There will no program this week. 

  • Tuesday, April 4: CDPH Program Director Irina Tabidze will join to discuss ongoing work related to STIs, HIV and other syndemic infectious diseases.

Lead Poisoning Prevention Report

Chicago has made great progress in reducing childhood lead poisoning. In 1996, the estimated prevalence of blood lead levels of 5 ug/dL or greater among Chicago children was 70%, and by 2021 it had decreased to 1.8%. This success is a result in part of strong policies and a comprehensive approach to lead poisoning prevention, including home inspections and abatement of lead hazards by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).  

Learn more from our recent Lead Report here and visit our lead web site for information on how the inspection process works and what Chicagoans can do to make sure their homes are healthy and lead safe.

COVID-19 Update

Cook County and Chicago remain in the Low COVID-19 Community Level based on metrics from the CDC. The CDC's COVID-19 Community Levels are updated every Thursday after 5pm CDT.

CDPH updates COVID-19 data on its dashboard every Wednesday at 5:30pm if you want to follow along.

Variants: CDPH and the CDC continue to monitor variants in Chicago and Midwest, as well as those emerging around the globe. So far, everything we see is a subvariant of Omicron, which is good news as the most current vaccine, the bivalent booster, was designed to work against this strain. Everyone 6 months and up should get a bivalent booster if they have not already.

Find your COVID vaccine at

March is Colorectal Cancer Month

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month brings awareness to the importance of regular screenings, as well as steps you can take to lower your risk factors. A new report from the American Cancer Society shows a general decline in CRC in the U.S. has been offset by a 1 – 2 percent increase annually since the mid-1990s among people under 55 years old.  

More than half of all CRC cases and deaths are attributable to risk factors such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and excess body weight, according to the American Cancer Society. Regular screening for CRC, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, can help to prevent it.  

Early detection drastically improves survival rates and is recommended for everyone over 45 or who have other risk factors. The CDC has more information on colorectal cancer, screenings and how to lower your risk.

Quick Hits!

The Chicago Health Atlas is a place where the media, students and researchers, and any Chicagoan can review, explore and compare health-related data over time and across communities. 

Planting trees helps our communities grow. Call 3-1-1 to request a free parkway tree in front of your home. (Restrictions apply).  

Connect to social services: Dial 2-1-1 or visit  

Find mental health resources: Visit UnSpoken Chicago to learn more and find mental health providers in all Chicago neighborhoods.