Responding to climbing COVID-19 metrics, the Cook County Department of Public Health announced Friday that it will reinstate its universal indoor mask mandate on Monday, Aug. 23.
Under the mandate, individuals age 2 and above will be required to wear a mask while indoors throughout the county. This includes inside “multi-unit residential buildings and public places, such as restaurants, movie theaters, retail establishments, fitness clubs, and on public transportation,” according to a CCDPH press release.
“We are in a dangerous period, with the Delta variant surging, during which we must return to previous remediation measures,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer of CCDPH, in the release. “We have no choice but to mandate that people wear masks indoors to help contain this spread of the virus.”
All communities in The Record’s coverage area — Wilmette, Winnetka, Northfield, Kenilworth and Glencoe — are in Cook County. The order also requires all county businesses to post signage announcing the mask mandate.
CCDPH offers a sign for employers to download and print.
Following a trend seen across the country, Cook County is enduring its worst COVID-19 surge since April. The 502 new cases recorded in the county is the highest since April 23, according to county data. The average number of cases per day from April 12-18 is 390, up from 42 on July 1 and 296 on Aug. 1.
More than 99 percent of the county’s new cases over the past two weeks are the COVID-19 Delta variant, according to county data.
“As the virus changes, we need to adapt our guidance and recommendations to keep residents safe,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, co-lead and senior medical officer of Cook County Department of Public Health, in the release. “This variant is highly contagious and represents over 90 percent of our recent cases. We must act now.”
The county’s positivity rate (measured on a seven-day average) is 5.5 percent and new-case rate is 123 new cases per 100,000. Every county in Illinois, including Cook, has a transmission level designated as “high,” the top level from the CDC.
In New Trier Township, those numbers are 4.13 percent and 139.4 per 100,000, respectively.
Wilmette is seeing the most significant spike in The Record’s coverage area, with a 175.3 new cases per 100,000 individuals, according to the village. Forty-seven new cases were reportedly counted in Wilmette over the last seven days, up from 36 the week before and 28 the week before that.
Village Manager Mike Braiman said the village will continue to follow the guidelines and orders of health officials from organizations such as the CCDPH, Illinois Public Health Department and the CDC.
Glencoe Village President at a recent board meeting pleaded with residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and doubled-down on those statements in a Village email sent on Friday, Aug. 20.
“If you are eligible to receive a vaccine but remain unvaccinated, you are placing others at risk, particularly those in our community who are unable to receive a vaccine at this time,” said Roin, adding that Glencoe’s vaccination rate (61%) is behind its neighbors like Wilmette, Winnetka, Glenview and Northbrook. “Vaccinations protect our children and grandchildren under the age of 12 or your elderly neighbors. I am vaccinated myself to keep my own grandchildren as safe as I can.”
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