Cook County this week has 51 cases per 100,000 people, up 78 percent from the prior 7-day period, CDC data shows. Under the federal agency’s recommendation, areas of substantial transmission are those with 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period, while areas of high transmission are those with more than 100 cases per 100,000.
The CDC guidance assumes “that jurisdictions will follow suit, and we certainly will,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, who co-leads the Cook County Department of Public Health, which covers 2.5 million residents outside Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park and Stickney Township.
Chicago is inching closer to triggering widespread mask recommendations.
The average number of new cases per day is 192, according to Chicago Department of Public Health. Once the city crosses the 200 daily case threshold, it moves into the “moderate” risk category, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has said.
The CDC in May said fully vaccinated people no longer would be required to wear masks in most indoor settings. Following the guidance, Gov. J.B. Pritzker rescinded emergency rules enforcing masking and social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings.
The problem with not requiring vaccinated people to mask in public indoor settings is that “you don’t know who’s really vaccinated and who isn’t when they come inside a place,” Rubin said. “You have to trust that people will be honest, but it only takes a few who are not to spread the virus around.”
While the state “fully aligns” with the CDC’s masking recommendations, it hasn’t issued another mandate.
Separately, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office on Thursday announced that face coverings are now required in all state facilities, regardless of vaccination status, to protect employees. The move comes as counties across Illinois see COVID cases increase, due largely to the more contagious delta variant.
“The state will continue to evaluate the need for additional mitigations and will not hesitate to put them in place as needed to protect the health of Illinois residents,” the Thursday statement says.