Nearly three quarters of Illinois counties at elevated COVID-19 risk
A recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations means nearly three quarters of all Illinois counties are at an elevated risk level.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 29 counties are now at high risk, up from 12 a week ago, while 45 other counties are at medium risk.
The CDC report shows all suburban counties are at medium risk.
In all, 74 of the state's 102 counties are currently designated with an elevated risk level of community spread.
That's due in large part to a recent spike in new cases and hospitalizations.
Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported hospitals statewide treated an average of 1,546 COVID-19 patients daily this week, compared to an average of 1,365 daily patients a week ago.
Currently, IDPH records show 1,582 patients are being treated for the virus across hospitals statewide. Of those hospitalized with COVID-19, 188 are in ICU beds, the most since mid-August.
A spike in other respiratory ailments is also showing up in hospitalization reports, IDPH officials said.
"These elevated COVID-19 community levels, along with rising flu levels, are leading to a surge of respiratory infections and increased hospitalizations," said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. "I recommend all Illinoisans, and especially those most vulnerable including young children and individuals over 65, take all preventive steps to protect themselves, their families and friends."
Public health officials recommend wearing masks in indoor settings with large numbers of individuals in those counties with an elevated risk.
IDPH records show 56 more Illinois residents have died from COVID-19 in the past week, bringing the state's death toll from the virus to 35,550.
Another 21,404 new cases were also confirmed during the past week, IDPH officials noted.
The CDC reports 16.7% of Illinois residents 5 and older have received the most recent vaccine booster dose that targets the current dominant strains of the virus.
Federal regulators this week approved a version of that booster for children 6 months old and up. Health officials recommend parents check with pediatricians about the updated booster because there are different courses depending on what type of initial vaccine young children received.