COVID-19 rules fall as contagious variants rise
Just as two highly contagious COVID-19 strains have taken over case rates in our region, state officials and at least one big event organizer have chosen to further relax mitigation rules.
Why it matters: BA.4 and BA.5 now make up more than 80% of our area's COVID cases. The strains are more contagious, leading some to warn about outdoor transmission. They're also better able to evade current vaccines and antibodies from a previous infection.
- Chicago is seeing its highest test positivity levels since January's Omicron surge, and statewide COVID hospitalizations have more than doubled since April.
- Plus, just 37.5% of the city has received booster shots.
Driving the news: Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced vaccination mandate relaxations for public higher education students and staffers.
- And the Pitchfork Music Festival, which expects 60,000 to gather in Union Park this weekend starting today, is no longer requiring proof of vaccination or testing.
Zoom in: Positivity and testing stats were removed from the city's main dashboard this week because, as health commissioner Allison Arwady noted, they only reflect tests done in public facilities, while "most people at this point are using home COVID tests."
- You can still find the data. You just have to dig deeper into the website.
💭 Justin's thought bubble: It's hard to understand why the city and state are relaxing the sparse COVID restrictions we have in place when it's pretty clear the new variants are wreaking havoc.
- The takeaway: You are on your own.
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