What CDC Community Levels Mean and What Is Required in Each – NBC Chicago

With a Chicago suburb reaching “high” levels of transmission, according to guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what does this mean for residents, and what precautions are being taken now?

The city of Evanston said Thursday that its level of COVID risk in the community has risen from “medium” to “high,” the highest alert level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Evanston reports that its percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID is also at a “medium” level of risk.

At the same time, as of Friday, 23 Illinois counties were at an “average” level, up from 14 a week ago.

So what does this mean and what does it take to get to each level?

Here’s a look at the guidelines:

The CDC recommends that those who want to know the COVID-19 community level in their region:

  • First determine if a county, state, or territory has fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days, or 200 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days.
  • Next, determine the level (low, medium, or high) of new hospital admissions and beds and indicators using the following scale for the area number for new cases.
  • The COVID-19 community level is based on the highest of admission and hospital bed metrics.

Low community level

In places with low community transmission, residents are advised to keep up with COVID vaccines and reinforcements and to maintain improved ventilation in indoor spaces whenever possible.

For individuals and at home:

  • Keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation in indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including testing if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for serious illness
    • Have a plan for quick testing if needed (e.g., testing at home or accessing testing)
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments such as oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies.

For communities:

  • Distribute and administer vaccines to achieve high community immunization coverage and ensure health equity
  • Maintain improved ventilation in indoor public spaces
  • Guarantee access to the tests, even through tests at the point of care and at home for all people
    • Communicate with organizations and sites that serve immunocompromised people or those at high risk for serious illness to make sure they know how to get tested quickly.
  • Ensure access and fairness in vaccination, testing, treatment, community outreach and support services for disproportionately affected populations.

Medium community level

This designation means that elderly or immunocompromised people are required to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Here’s what the CDC recommends for people in counties with a medium alert level:

  • If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for serious illness
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether to wear a mask and take other precautions (e.g., testing).
    • Have a plan for quick testing if needed (e.g., testing at home or accessing testing)
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments such as oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies.
  • If you have domestic or social contact with someone at high risk for serious illness
    • consider self-testing for infection before contact
    • consider wearing a mask when you are indoors with them
  • Keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation in indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including testing if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19

For mid-level communities:

  • Protect people at high risk of serious illness or death by ensuring equitable access to vaccination, testing, treatment, support services and information.
  • Consider implementing screening or other testing strategies for people who are exposed to COVID-19 in workplaces, schools, or other community settings, as appropriate.
  • Implement improved prevention measures in high-risk congregation settings (see the guide for prisons and homeless shelters
  • Distribute and administer vaccines to achieve high community immunization coverage and ensure health equity
  • Maintain improved ventilation in indoor public spaces
  • Guarantee access to the tests, even through tests at the point of care and at home for all people
    • Communicate with organizations and sites that serve immunocompromised people or those at high risk for serious illness to make sure they know how to get tested quickly.
  • Ensure access and fairness in vaccination, testing, treatment, community outreach and support services for disproportionately affected populations.

The best Chicago doctor said the average designation means the city will strongly recommend masks, but the requirement will probably not return until a high designation is revealed.

“Assuming that COVID continues to behave the way it has behaved, we would not require masking or vaccination for high-risk environments unless we are at a high and high level by CDC,” said the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady said earlier this week. “But in the middle, you will see more signs, for example … But as we move to a medium level of risk, and we will see more of this now highly recommended inside … Personally I will put the mask back on more “We are not in the red, masks are mandatory inside and this will also be true in schools.”

High community level

Counties are asked to reach a high community level to re-establish the use of masks for all people inside, regardless of vaccination status, and to consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities.

Here’s what the CDC recommends for people in high-level regions:

  • Wear a tight-fitting mask1 indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including K-12 schools and other indoor community settings)
  • If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for serious illness
    • Wear a mask or respirator for added protection
    • Consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you may be exposed
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should take other precautions (e.g., testing).
    • Have a plan for quick testing if needed (e.g., testing at home or accessing testing)
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments such as oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies.
  • If you have domestic or social contact with someone at high risk for serious illness
    • consider self-testing for infection before contact
    • consider wearing a mask when you are indoors with them
  • Keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation in indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including testing if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19

For communities:

  • Consider specific recommendations for establishing prevention strategies based on local factors
  • Implement boom health care as needed
  • Protect people at high risk of serious illness or death by ensuring equitable access to vaccination, testing, treatment, support services and information.
  • Consider implementing screening or other testing strategies for people who are exposed to COVID-19 in workplaces, schools, or other community settings, as appropriate.
  • Implement improved prevention measures in high-risk congregated settings (see guide to prisons and homeless shelters)
  • Distribute and administer vaccines to achieve high community immunization coverage and ensure health equity
  • Maintain improved ventilation in indoor public spaces
  • Guarantee access to the tests, even through tests at the point of care and at home for all people
    • Communicate with organizations and sites that serve immunocompromised people or those at high risk for serious illness to make sure they know how to get tested quickly.
  • Ensure access and fairness in vaccination, testing, treatment, community outreach and support services for disproportionately affected populations.

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