Chicago issues mask recommendation as COVID cases increase

Chicago issues mask recommendation as COVID cases increase

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CHICAGO (AP) — The city of Chicago on Friday issued a recommendation that everyone over 2 years old wear masks while indoors.

The action was taken as the U.S. or Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people, even if vaccinated, wear masks indoors in areas with a high transmission of COVID-19. According to Chicago’s health department, the city surpassed 200 new coronavirus cases per day on Friday. The number of new cases in Illinois increased by nearly 50% during the week, compared with the previous week, state health officials said.

Chicago public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says the step advising indoor mask use was made to prevent further spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

“This isn’t forever, but it is necessary to help decrease the risk for all Chicagoans right now,” Arwady said.

A study of a coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts found the delta variant, first detected in India, causes infections that are more contagious than the common cold, flu, smallpox and the Ebola virus. The variant was found to be as infectious as chickenpox.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in Chicago comes as the city hosts the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park. On opening day Thursday, festival officials said more than 90% of attendees showed up with proof of being vaccinated, while 8% showed proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Six hundred people were turned away because they didn’t have either, according to a tweet by festival officials.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,348 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, the second time in three days the tally has topped 2,000. COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 35% across Illinois during a week that saw cases jump 46%, according to public health officials.

More than 900 hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients late Thursday, the most since early June. Illinois is averaging about six deaths daily. The latest weekly data released by the Department of Health shows the rate of hospital admittances has climbed beyond 12 per 100,000 residents who aren’t fully vaccinated. That’s still below the rate of 35 around Thanksgiving, during the peak of the fall surge.

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