Approximately 12% of US counties are either considered as medium or high community levels for COVID-19, according to the city of Chicago’s travel advisory and the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the first time since travel advisory guidance was revised earlier this year, Chicago itself and several suburban counties are listed in the medium category, meaning safety COVID measures are advised in those areas, too. City health officials a week earlier acknowledged the shift was possible, noting it could happen in the coming weeks.
Those who visit areas listed as medium community levels are encouraged to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. In the 79 US counties listed as having high community levels, the following precautionary measures are advised:
- Wear a mask in indoor public places
- Stay home and quarantine for five days after travel
- Take a COVID test 3-5 days after return. If it is positive, stay home and follow CDC guidance.
Travelers who are at least 5 years old and aren’t up to date with COVID vaccinations should avoid traveling to areas listed as high community levels, according to the recommendations. Unvaccinated individuals who opt to travel should follow CDC guidance upon returning to Chicago.
As of Friday, the Northeast and New England remain the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots, with nearly all the high community level counties in a region stretching from western New York to northern Maine.
In Illinois, no counties are listed as high community levels, but a total of 13 are considered medium. Those counties are Lake, McHenry, Winnebago, Dekalb, Kane, DuPage, Kendall, and Will in the Chicago area and Champaign, Douglas, Logan, McLean and Sangamon in central Illinois.
Portions of the Midwest are also classified in the medium category, including counties surrounding Detroit, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to the CDC. Grand Traverse County in northern Michigan and Pennington County in northwest Minnesota are the only two Midwest counties with high community levels.