Even though the vast majority of the United States has made progress in the fight against COVID-19, more than a dozen counties across the country are experiencing troubling measures, as data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. .
Of the 3,006 counties nationwide, 123 are listed in the medium community level category, as defined by the CDC, and 19 are said to have high community levels, meaning masks are recommended.
But of those 19 counties, four are in Illinois: Gallatin, Hardin, Pope, and Saline counties.
Illinois, however, is not the state with the most counties listed as high risk.
South Dakota has the most, with six counties in the category, followed by Illinois and Pennsylvania, which each have four.
A county’s community-level status is determined by the highest of new admissions and new inpatient bed metrics, based on the current level of new cases per 100,000 population, according to health officials.
Under CDC direction, counties are designated as one of three color-coded levels: green, yellow, and orange.
Residents of green and yellow counties, with low and medium COVID levels, respectively, do not need to wear masks. However, people in yellow counties who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID should speak with their doctor about whether they should wear a mask or take other precautions.
It’s unclear when and if other counties will see a change in community levels and mask recommendations, but it’s still possible.
Illinois reported more than 2,000 new confirmed and probable COVID cases in a single day on Friday for the first time in more than a month. Likewise, a “gradual increase” in COVID cases has been reported even in Chicago, though health officials said the increase was expected.