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Chicago, Cook County move to medium COVID-19 alert levels

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CBS News Chicago Live

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With the holiday season here, there are new concerns about COVID-19 in Chicago and in Cook County. Both have shifted from low to medium alert levels, and health officials again are urging precautions to reduce the spread. 

CBS 2's Shardaa Gray spoke with an epidemiologist who said it's not just COVID people should take precautions against. 

After Thanksgiving weekend, and with more gatherings planned through the end of the year, health officials are expecting to see a spike with the tripledemic: Covid, the flu and RSV. 

Dr. Katrine Wallace, who is an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, said it's more than just COVID affecting Chicagoans.

"We're seeing unseasonably high rates for it being this early in the season. And then we're also seeing really high rates for RSV," she said. 

Wallace said the city is in a better place with COVID this year compared to previous years, but she said Illinois has moved from a low circulation to high activity with influenza within one month.

"We've seen that actually in previous years," she said. "This year, since we have the three viruses circulating together, I would not be surprised if we do see an increase after this past weekend."

Now that Cook County is in the COVID medium category and the three viruses circulating, Dr. Wallace said getting the new bivalent booster shot should be on the top of your list of things to do.

"This is a good idea, especially moving into the winter holidays," she said. "If you get your booster now, you can be protected by Christmas."

She urges everyone to take precaution following the uptick in metrics.

"Masking in indoor settings is also recommended in the medium level," she said. "You don't know other people's vaccination status when you're out or if they're sick or not."

Wallace said to get tested before going to an event or outing. She said because symptoms for the three illnesses are similar it's hard to tell which illness could be affecting you. When in doubt, don't attend events, she said.  

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