Jul 15, 2022 - COVID

COVID-19 rules fall as contagious variants rise

Mask on street

A discarded surgical mask on the sidewalk in Lakeview. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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.

Driving the news: Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced vaccination mandate relaxations for public higher education students and staffers.

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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