As cases rise, don’t try to get COVID to end the problem, says Chicago’s top doctor – NBC Chicago

With cases on the rise and 15 counties in Illinois, including Cook County, at the “high community level” of the COVID virus, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady urged people on Thursday to wear masks again in crowded indoor settings, move Memorial Day weekend gatherings outdoors — and warned against trying to “make COVID get over it.”

“Please don’t try to ‘get COVID over with,'” Arwaday said.

“We hear people trying to do this. It does nothing to help us get through COVID as a city,” she continued. “It’s also potentially dangerous given that we don’t always know who is likely to have more severe outcomes, and there are people who have long COVID. Don’t think having COVID means you don’t “Never have COVID again. We’re seeing a lot of people getting re-infected with COVID. The vaccine is the most important thing for protection.

According to a new study from Northwestern Medicine, many so-called COVID “long haulers” who had mild symptoms and were never hospitalized with the virus continue to experience symptoms, including brain fog, tingling, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus and fatigue. on average 15 months after the appearance of the virus.

These “long haulers” are people who have had symptoms of COVID for six weeks or more.

Interior masking

While officials remain in the state will only revert to a mask mandate if the hospital system is threatened, Arwady also stressed the importance of wearing a mask as cases are on the rise.

“Yes, that means you regardless of your vaccination status as we go ‘high,'” Arwady said. “But even though there’s no mandate in place, we’re asking everyone during this short time while we’re on ‘high’ is to put on this mask, especially if you’re in a crowded environment. inside.”

Why COVID is spreading

The main reason there is more spread of COVID right now, Arwady said, is that the current variant is much more contagious than previous ones.

“We have now seen two sub-variants appear and surpass the first version of Omicron,” Arwady said, referring to BA.2.12.1. “It’s the most infectious version of Omicron we’ve ever seen.”

According to data from last week, the BA.2.12.1 subvariant of omicron accounted for approximately 47.5% of COVID cases in the United States.

Testing and Quarantine Guidelines

As well as making sure you’re up to date on booster shots – which are now approved and recommended for anyone aged 5 or over – Arwady recommended residents continue to test, whether through PCR tests or home testing, as this helps limit risk.

“What I don’t want is people not testing because they’re worried about stigma. There’s no shame in getting COVID,” Arwady said.

If you test positive for COVID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 10-day isolation and quarantine guidelines remain the same whether or not you have been fully vaccinated.

“If you are diagnosed with COVID right now, you should stay home for five days,” Arwady said, referring to CDC advice. “If you feel better, after five days you can leave your house, but you should continue to mask up while you are with others for days six to ten.”

“High” Covid alert level

A total of 15 of Illinois’ 102 counties are now at “high community level” for the virus, officials say.

According to new guidelines released by the CDC, a county is considered to be at a “high community level” of COVID when its average number of weekly cases per 100,000 population exceeds 200, and when it averages 10 weekly hospital admissions. hospital or when it sees 10% or more of its hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.

The six counties that are at this “high” level went there because of weekly hospital admissions, according to CDC data.

In the event a county reaches a “high community level” of COVID, residents are advised to wear masks indoors regardless of coronavirus vaccination status, according to the CDC.

Residents who are immunocompromised or who live in a household with such residents are urged to consider avoiding “non-essential indoor activities” and to consult with their doctor about any additional measures that may be necessary.

NBC Chicago

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