CHICAGO (WLS) — Cook County Health officials are expected to issue new mask guidelines Friday as CDC data shows “substantial” COVID-19 transmission.

County and state health officials looking at an uptick in case numbers they haven’t seen in months.

“As public health officials, we are extremely, extremely concerned about this rise,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medical officer at Cook County Dept. of Public Health.

“It’s time for caution,” said Steve Brandy, public information officer for Will County Health Dept. “That is a reminder that we are far from done here, and the fact that about 80% of these new cases in Will County are connected to the Delta variant.”

Cook, DeKalb, Grundy, Kendall, LaSalle and Boone counties have now joined the list of Illinois counties showing “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19. DuPage, McHenry and Will counties are also at the “substantial” risk level.

In Indiana, Newton and Jasper counties are at “high” rates of transmission. Racine County in Wisconsin is at the “substantial” level.

SEE ALSO | Illinois COVID vaccine map shows how many residents vaccinated by county

The new CDC guidelines recommend everyone in those counties start wearing masks indoors again, even if they’re vaccinated.

CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels by U.S. County

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“Honestly it makes sense, even though it kind of sucks, but I’d rather do that than like another shutdown,” said Kelly O’Brien.

County health officials say the only way to slow this uptick down is to get more people vaccinated.

“The only thing this virus cares about is surviving …to really take advantage of people who aren’t vaccinated,” said DuPage County Health Dept. Executive Director Karen Ayala.

Chicago’s top doctor believes the city will also be moving into the “substantial” risk category very soon.

“I would expect that as we watch this over these next few days, you know,” Dr. Allison Arwady said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if by, you know, early next week we’re making some formal announcements. This is related to the Delta variant, and the fact that it is here, and it is spreading.”
Right now, Chicago is seeing an average of 190 new cases per day and that number keeps inching higher.

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