Dec 21, 2022 - COVID

Chicago officials warn of COVID spread over the holidays

Illustration of a backpack on a background of college ruled paper, surrounded by dots.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Health chief Allison Arwady and CPS chief Pedro Martinez are urging vigilance during the holiday break to quell the spread of COVID-19, flu and RSV.

Why it matters: Cases of all three have surged in recent weeks, and holiday gatherings are expected to increase their spread.

What they're saying: "Please exercise caution during the break," Martinez said at a health briefing yesterday.

  • He also said CPS will be monitoring COVID rates and sending updates on any new procedures.

By the numbers: Arwady said more than 40 Chicagoans per day are being hospitalized for COVID.

  • Children under 17 make up the largest group of ER patients locally.
  • And just 17% of kids under age 5 have had their primary series of COVID vaccines.

Zoom in: Arwady repeated the advice to, "Vax up, mask up, back up [from people], open up [windows], wash up and test up."

  • She urged folks with any symptoms to stay home from events and to test before seeing older or immunocompromised people.
  • Arwady also advised trusting your symptoms over initial rapid test results. When she got COVID, she said, she felt sick but initially tested negative. The next day, she tested positive.

Details: Get free home tests by mail or from any CPS school.

  • CPS students can also sign up for free weekly COVID screenings.

What's next: Arwady expects Chicago to hit high COVID risk levels soon, leading to stricter mask advisories, as seen in New York and Los Angeles.

  • That advisory would not require it at CPS, "but we would heavily encourage masking," Martinez says.

Of note: If cases started to strain hospital capacity, Arwady said she could shift the advisory to a mask mandate until hospitals get back down to a point where they could handle the surge.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more