All suburban counties now at medium COVID-19 risk level, with DuPage approaching high
The Chicago Department of Public Health is urging masking indoors in public and on transit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as cases spike, officials said Friday.
Fourteen Illinois counties, including Cook and the suburbs, are registering a medium level of COVID-19 transmissions, and DuPage County is tracking to shift to high, one expert predicts.
A week ago, just five counties were at medium transmission rates -- among them DuPage and Lake, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady cautioned Friday that "people can spread COVID for two days before they develop symptoms, so putting on a mask in public indoor settings is an easy way to help protect our city while we're at a medium COVID level."
Statewide, average case counts climbed by 24% in a week, and hospitalizations rose at a lesser rate of 10%, IDPH data showed.
In the suburbs, Edward Hospital ended the week of April 30 with 19 hospitalizations, "and in the last seven days, we've had 32 hospitalizations," medical director of infection control and prevention Jonathan Pinsky said. That compares to an average of five to 10 admissions a week in March and April.
The increase in cases comes as a variant of COVID-19, BA.2, proliferates in the U.S. The latest COVID-19 strain is super infectious but typically results in milder infections.
Patients admitted to Edward with COVID-19 were mostly elderly with mild or moderate symptoms, Pinsky said, but because of their age, issues like dehydration caused by the virus require specialized care.
It's one reason to consider using masks while celebrating Mother's Day if there's a large, indoor group with older seniors, physicians advise.
Pinsky noted that DuPage County now registers 6.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. A level of 10 per 100,000 would trigger a high level of transmissions.
"With the trajectory of hospitalizations we're seeing at our hospital, I wouldn't be surprised if DuPage County were to move from medium to high in the next week," Pinsky said.
At a medium community level, people who are elderly or have an underlying medical condition are advised to wear masks indoors.
The seven-day average for Illinois COVID-19 cases was 4,376 Friday, compared to 3,521 on April 29.
Average daily hospitalizations came to 745 Thursday, in contrast with 676 on April 28.
Illinois reported 7,709 new COVID-19 cases Friday, a level not seen since February, the IDPH said.
Deaths from the virus remain relatively stable with seven recorded, the same as the seven-day average.
Illinois hospitals were treating 808 COVID-19 patients Thursday night.
On Thursday, 19,768 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 14,163.
So far, 8,724,048 Illinoisans have been fully vaccinated, or 68.8% of the state's 12.7 million population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's.
Total cases statewide stand at 3,169,315, and 33,660 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.