As Chicago and suburban Cook County are back under a high COVID alert level, health officials reiterate precautions to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, especially with more gatherings planned until the end of the year.
Chicago and Cook County were downgraded from “low” to “medium” community level status on Friday after an increase in metrics, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.
“(The CDC) has seen an increase in COVID-19 activity,” said Dr. Juanita Mora, an allergist and immunologist at the Chicago Allergy Center.
She said it’s more than COVID that’s affecting Chicagoans, though.
“The medium risk level right now is for both COVID-19 and influenza and we’re already seeing tons of RSV,” Mora said.
After Thanksgiving gatherings, Mora predicts an increase in all three viruses. Marginalized communities, such as Chicago’s black and Latino communities, are expected to be hit the hardest.
“They were the two communities with the lowest vaccination rates, and that’s still the case today, which means there’s a lot of work to be done in those communities,” Mora said.
Health officials are urging everyone to take precautions following the increased measures.
“If you’re coming home or going to an outdoor event, make sure you wear a mask,” Mora said. “Make sure all family members six months and older get their COVID-19 vaccine and their flu shot as well.”
Whether or not you decide to get vaccinated or wear a mask, it is strongly recommended that you stay home if you feel sick.
Free COVID vaccines are available at pharmacies in Chicago and the suburbs, including CVS and Walgreens. Mora encourages people who haven’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated now, as it could potentially cost $80 starting Jan. 1.