Chicago COVID-19 Update:
Chicago and Cook County Remain at Medium COVID Community Level
CDPH strongly recommending masking in public indoor spaces
May 13, 2022
CHICAGO – A growing area of northern Illinois, including Chicago and suburban Cook County, is at a Medium COVID-19 Community Level, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today. This is the second week that Chicago is at the Medium Level.
Local case counts continue to rise and CDPH continues to strongly recommend masking in all public indoor spaces in Chicago-- including on public transit. 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 should also ensure that they and everyone in their social network are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters; test when they experience COVID-19 symptoms; and continue to follow all isolation and quarantine requirements.
Chicago would move from a Medium to High Community Level if case counts stayed high and the local COVID-19 hospitalization rate approximately doubled (from the current 4.9 new hospital admissions per 100,000 population per week to more than 10 per 100,000 per week). At a High Community Level, Chicago could reinstate indoor mask requirements or other mitigations to protect the health care system.
“The rise in COVID-19 cases is something we are watching very closely and not taking lightly,” said Allison Arwady, M.D., Commissioner of CDPH. “Thankfully, many fewer Chicagoans are being hospitalized right now with COVID-19 than in prior waves, mostly thanks to vaccines and boosters. We want to keep it that way and see our case numbers trend back down, so we ask everyone to do their part.”
While 76% of Chicagoans age 12 and up have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series, just 41% have also had the recommended vaccine booster—despite recommendations that everyone age 12 and over receive a booster five months after completing the primary vaccine series. People age 50 and over are also eligible for a second booster, but even among Chicagoans age 65 and older, just 58% have had even one booster.
Chicago 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determines COVID-19 Community Levels as Low, Medium, or High, based on the number of new local COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 hospital admissions, and COVID-19 hospital capacity in the prior week. Cook County (combining Chicago and suburban Cook data) counted 338 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. Last week that number was 259.
Visit chi.gov/coviddash for the Chicago COVID-19 daily data dashboard. When the CDC updates its COVID-19 Community Levels national map each week (typically on Thursday evenings), City of Chicago and suburban Cook County data are combined into one weekly case metric for Cook County. Hospitalization data, in contrast, reflect burden on the whole federally defined Health Service Area, which includes hospitals in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and McHenry counties. 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 cases rise in Chicago, remember, we have the tools – namely vaccines and masks – to fight back,” said Arwady. “Don’t live in fear of COVID but respect it. Being vaccinated and boosted won’t entirely stop COVID, but it helps. Masking won’t entirely stop COVID, but it helps. Moving activities outside and testing at the first sign of COVID symptoms won’t entirely stop COVID, but it helps. Layering these measures on top of each other works best, and together they can help Chicago get back down to Low level, which is where we all want to be this summer.”
Chicago Public Schools is encouraging indoor masking and the CTA is encouraging riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Free masks are available on buses and 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.
According to the CDC, 18.4 percent – or 593 – of the 3,220 counties in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are now at Medium or High COVID-19 Community Levels. That is a 49.4 percent increase from last week.
Cook County is among 23 Illinois counties (up from 14 last week) now at a Medium Level. No Illinois counties have reached a High Level, but closest to home, Kenosha and Racine Counties in Wisconsin are at a High Level. There are 15 counties in Michigan, in areas that include Detroit, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, and Mackinac County, at a High Level. There are no Indiana counties currently at a High Level.
The Northeast and New England remain the nation’s largest area of Medium to High COVID Community Levels. Except for Essex County, Vermont, every county in New England is at Medium or High Level.
COVID-19 Community Levels in U.S. by County
|COVID-19 Community Levels in US by County|
(79 last week)
ALL travelers should check the CDC map so they know whether the areas they are traveling to are at a Low, Medium, or High COVID-19 Community Level. Anyone traveling to a part of the country at Medium or High Level is urged to take appropriate precautions.
- If areas are Low Level (green), no additional action must be taken. Continue to follow standard guidance related to travel and up-to-date vaccination.
- If the areas are Medium Level (yellow), CDPH recommends individuals wear a mask in indoor public places.
- If the areas are High Level (orange):
- Wear a mask in indoor public places.
- Travelers who are age 5 or older who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines are advised to avoid travel to High Level counties.
- Unvaccinated Chicagoans age 5 or older who travel to High Level counties are advised to follow CDC guidance upon returning to Chicago:
- Stay home and quarantine for 5 days after travel
- Take a COVID test 3-5 days after return – if it is positive, stay home and follow CDC guidance.
- ALL travelers are also advised to:
- Ensure you are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines (including boosters) before any planned travel.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- Consider packing an at-home COVID test in case you develop symptoms while traveling.
- Bring a mask with you. Masks may be required by individual airports, airlines, and public transit agencies. Businesses may also still choose to require masks.