Cook County emerges from worst local surge of COVID-19
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Cook County emerges from worst local surge of COVID-19

Both Cook and Lake counties are listed as having a ‘medium COVID-19 risk’ as part of a new federal tracking system that defines community levels of viral spread on how it impacts local healthcare facilities.

Cook County public health officials late last week reported six new cases of COVID among local residents, a sharp decline from late January and early February.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden declared this week that “it’s time for Americans to get back to work” as he announced new efforts to allow people to return to normal activities safely after two years of pandemic disruptions, the Associated Press reports.

Biden used his State of the Union address to announce that his administration was launching a “test-to-treat” initiative to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies to those who test positive for the virus. Cook County Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager said during a March 2 interview on WTIP that there are methods of treatment available locally for those who test positive and are at greatest risk from COVID.

Biden’s comments came just ahead of the White House release of a new “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” on Wednesday. The White House said it would be “a roadmap that will enable us to move forward safely, and sustain and build on the progress we’ve made over the past 13 months.”

In his remarks Tuesday, Biden said that in addition to starting the new antiviral initiative, his administration would allow people in the U.S. to order another round of free tests from the government.

In related news, officials from Cook County Public Health and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic announced that as of March 1 the COVID-19 vaccination site locally will transition from the Cook County Community Center to Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (SMC). This includes both initial doses and boosters for those ages five and above.

Community members can now call SMC to schedule an appointment at (218) 387-2330.

“At this point in the pandemic, more than 81 percent of Cook County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is a huge accomplishment for our community,” Grinager said.

Listen to the audio below to hear the full interview with Grinager from WTIP’s March 2 edition of Daybreak.