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Chicago enters ‘high’ Covid alert level

Chicago has become the latest city to enter a ‘high’ covid alert level in accordance with CDC guidelines, but Windy City officials are choosing not to reinstate a mask mandate, instead only recommending wearing face coverings, amid rising case numbers but limited deaths.

The change, announced Thursday night, has affected Cook County, which includes Chicago, and others in the surrounding area, the state Department of Health announced this week. It arrives just before Memorial Day weekend, one of the biggest times of the year for the city’s tourism industry, with more than a million people expected to arrive for the holidays.

While such a move would typically trigger the re-implementation of a mask mandate, officials will postpone this time as mortality from the virus has largely dropped in recent months. The city is averaging 1,081 infections per day, but only about 0.1 deaths in the city of 2.7 million.

It follows a national trend of death figures remaining low despite rising cases, as the real risk people face from Covid every day declines due to the effectiveness of vaccines, the widespread availability of therapeutics and the nature lighter than the Omicron variant compared to other pressures.

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As a whole, the US is averaging 109,237 cases per day and 356 deaths, both numbers up six percent over the past week.

While a mask mandate is not on the way, experts are giving other recommendations on how residents and visitors can stay safe during this busy weekend.

“One of the easiest things we can do to alleviate the risk of COVID is to do most things outdoors, or have an outdoor celebration,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s public health commissioner, informs. nbc chicago.

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“For me, that reduces my concern and I know people are getting together for Memorial Day, if you can do that, especially for someone who is at higher risk, I highly recommend it.”

Windy City officials are taking the lead from New York City, which also entered a ‘high’ level of covid transmission earlier this month but chose not to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Disease Prevention (CDC) by reinstating a mask mandate.

Early last week, the Big Apple also crossed the threshold for hospitalizations and case numbers that put it in the “high” risk category.

Health officials reportedly pressured Mayor Eric Adams to reinstate mask orders as a result, but he decided against it.

“I am proud of what we are doing and how we are not allowing Covid to outwit us,” he said, reported the New York Daily News.

‘We remain prepared and do not panic. When I look at hospitalizations and deaths, the numbers are stable.’

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Officials who feel more comfortable living next to Covid and who do not react with fear to changes in cases is a trend that seems to come from the top.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the newly appointed White House Covid response coordinator, said this week that Covid is not as dangerous now as it was a short time ago.

“What’s been remarkable in the latest spike in infections that we’re seeing is how consistent the serious illnesses and, in particular, deaths are eight weeks after this,” Jha told the AP.

“Covid is no longer the killer it was even a year ago.”

Between therapeutics, widely available COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, and the milder nature of the Omicron variant, Jha says deaths from the virus are now preventable.

We’re at a point now where I think fundamentally most COVID deaths are preventable, that the deaths that are happening are mostly unnecessary, and there are a lot of tools that we have now to make sure people don’t die from this disease. ‘ he said.

However, not all blue cities agree. In Philadelphia, officials reinstated school mask orders this week amid a surge in cases.

“To help protect the health and well-being of all as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the Philadelphia area, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has recommended that we resume universal use of face coverings. said Dr. William Hite, principal of the city school. superintendent, he said in a statement.

The move came weeks after the city strangely decided to institute an indoor mask mandate in late April, before lifting the orders just four days later.

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