Multiple COVID metrics have risen over the course of the past week, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand the number of counties where precautions are suggested.
According to an update of the CDC’s county-by-county community levels map, 12% of U.S. counties are listed as having either medium or high community levels, an increase from 9% last week.
Several Illinois counties have made the list as well, prompting some local governments to issue reminders and specific mask guidance on top of the recommendations already set forth by the CDC.
In Chicago, health officials are “strongly recommending” residents wear masks as the city recently moved from a low to medium community level due to an increasing number of COVID cases.
While Chicago remains at a medium community level, health officials have said if the city were to move into the high category, a mask mandate could be reinstated.
Health officials in suburban Cook County have issued similar guidance following the shift in community level status.
Masks are recommended indoors to protect those at high risk for severe illness, those with underlying medical conditions and the immunocompromised, according to a news release issued by county health officials.
The recommendations differ slightly in Kane, McHenry, Lake, DuPage, DeKalb, Kendall and Will counties, which are also listed in the medium category. As these counties have yet to issue specific mask guidance, residents and visitors are encouraged to follow recommendations set forth by state health officials and the CDC.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, those in areas with rising COVID-19 infections are advised to wear a mask if entering indoor spaces with other people present.
The CDC recommendations differ, however.
The agency doesn’t require or recommend masks for the general population at a medium community level status. Instead, people at high risk for illness are advised to talk to their health care provider to determine whether they should wear a mask. Masks are encouraged when a county is elevated to high community level status, guidance stated.