CHICAGO — Chicago, Cook County and most of northeastern Illinois  is now at a high level of transmission.

The CDC says if an area has 200 or more new Covid cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days that is greater than 10% the area is considered to be at the high level.

It’s a CDC designation Chicago Department of Public Health’s Dr. Allison Arwady said is likely triggered by an increase in hospital admissions.

But for she offered a warning.

“If you think you have a cold, if you think you have allergies, there is a good chance right now with how much covid is around, that it could be covid,” she said.

That’s why she and other public health officials are recommending precautions.

 “Wear a mask indoors, in public … regardless of your vaccination status,” she said.

It is not a mandate, but it’s especially important as people welcome visitors for get-togethers this Memorial Day Weekend.

And if you’re hopping on a plane, Dr. Michael Bauer, the Medical Director of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, advised you to mask up – even though airlines no longer require it. 

“I would definitely wear a mask both in the airport and on the plane the entire time. I would limit the amount of time you take it off even for eating,” he said.

He said this spring spread has a combination of causes, that started with the lifting of mandates.

“When you’re not taking those same levels of precautions in the face of this highly highly contagious variant that’s really the recipe for these increased levels right now,” he said.

Overall, the area is in a much better place than it was at the beginning of the year when hospitalizations were 10 times higher then.

“If Covid threatens our local hospitals and healthcare capacity we will take further action. Like citywide indoor mask mandates, or even more stringent if that’s required,” Arwady said. “But we don’t need it yet and we don’t want to get there.”