Chicago hospitals and health care providers are also coping with sharp increases in flu cases and illness caused by RSV, a respiratory virus, officials said.
The move is likely to reduce fears, at least temporarily, of an imminent surge of COVID-19 once colder weather settled over Chicago for the duration, forcing people indoors.
Chicago and Cook County last faced a medium risk of COVID-19 in mid-September.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said COVID hospitalizations remain a point of some concern in the city.
Chicago and Cook County last faced a low risk of COVID-19 on May 5. The region has bounced between a medium risk and a high risk all summer.
At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world has never been in a better position to stop COVID-19. The U.N. health agency said deaths fell by 22% in the past week, at just over 11,000 reported worldwide. There were 3.1 million new cases, a drop of 28%.
The new boosters are combination or “bivalent” shots that contain half the original vaccine that’s been used since December 2020 and half protection against today’s dominant omicron versions, BA.4 and BA.5.
The move by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna that already have saved millions of lives. The hope is that the modified boosters will blunt yet another winter surge.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, who has been the public face of Chicago’s response throughout the continuing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the outbreak of monkeypox, said she would work from home while isolating.
In its latest weekly assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.N. health agency said there were 5.3 million new cases and more than 14,000 deaths reported last week. WHO said the number of new infections declined in every world region except the Western Pacific.
Vaccinations for babies, toddlers and preschoolers opened in the U.S. in June after months of delay. Only about 6% of youngsters ages 6 months through 4 years had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-August, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Chicago Department of Public Health officials continue to recommend that residents wear masks indoors and on public transportation to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 and ensure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.
The U.N. health agency said there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths in the last week and nearly 7 million new infections. The number of new deaths rose by 19% in the Middle East, while dropping by more than 70% in Africa, 15% in Europe and 10% in the Americas.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are working on bivalent boosters: vaccines made up of both the old formula and a new one that targets the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the coronavirus. If the shots meet US Food and Drug Administration standards, they will probably be available as early as September, the FDA says.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden was experiencing “mild symptoms” and has begun taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug designed to reduce the severity of the disease.
Chicago Department of Public Health officials recommend that residents wear masks indoors and on public transportation to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 and ensure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.