COVID Illinois Update: IL reports 1,979 new cases, 63 deaths

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Doctors share when you should still wear a mask as mandates lift
Mask mandates may be going away soon, but doctors are warning people that doesn't mean COVID disappears, too.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 1,979 new COVID cases and 63 related deaths Thursday.

There have been 3,024,663 total COVID cases, including 32,580 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 2.5%. The last time it was that low was Nov. 5, 2021.

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Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 132,055 new specimens for a total of 54,187,451 since the pandemic began.

As of Wednesday night, 1,183 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19, Of those, 246 patients were in the ICU, and 118 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 21,057,410 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Tuesday, and 63.59% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 17,450.

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Mask mandates go away next week in Chicago and the rest of Illinois, but doctors are warning people that doesn't mean COVID disappears, too.

"We are still on substantial transmission here in Illinois, especially Chicago and Cook County, there is a lot of COVID still out there," said Dr. John Segreti, director of infection control and prevention at Rush University Medical Center.

Illinois is still seeing thousands of cases day, compared to hundreds a day last summer.

"For some people who are uncomfortable, who are over 65, who are immunosuppressed, who have risk for severe disease... may still want to wear a mask," Segreti said.

For others who are fully vaccinated and boosted, wearing a mask or not depends on assessing your own personal risk. It all comes down to ventilation, duration of time and crowds.

"If you are in a small, enclosed area for 2 hours that is potentially riskier than if you are running in and out of grocery store for 5 minutes," Segreti explained.

And gyms are riskier depending on what you do and when you go. For example, "a very crowded health club on a Sunday morning in a spin class, where you may be shoulder to shoulder with someone," said Dr. Michael Bauer, medical director at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

While outside is considered safe, doctors say in certain settings, like concerts, it's riskier than some indoor places.

"If you are in a standing room only crowd, next to people for an hour or 90 minutes, people are screaming, yelling... that is a high risk situation," Bauer said.

With case numbers and hospitalizations continuing to go down and the percentage of protection going up, doctors say we are getting close to the point where masks won't be necessary for most people.