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Top Illinois Doctors Say COVID-19 Spike Likely In Fall, But No Policy Changes Imminent

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two top doctors in Illinois who have been the public faces of the COVID-19 pandemic teamed up Monday to clarify where things stand.

Since May 11 Illinois has seen the number of COVID-19 variant cases double. It is a trend that has both the head of the state and city health departments concerned. They are expecting a spike in the fall, but they say still no policy changes are imminent.

"No matter what new twist comes our way, we will be ready," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The twists are coming -- and a fall spike too -- according to the two top doctors.

Ezike and Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, say the upward trend in COVID-19 cases in Illinois will continue. And unlike in Los Angeles where spikes in COVID-19 cases has brought back required masking, that is not likely in the Chicago area for now.

"I don't think we're at a point right now to say everyone needs to wear a mask," Arwady said. "That's a local decision."

Nor are booster shots.

"There is no booster recommended right now," Ezike said. "Unless we get a variant that emerges that really the vaccines are not protective against, I don't think this is something on the short term horizon."

In their campaign to vaccinate more Illinoisians, they revealed that in the pocket of southern Illinois known as Metro East, 100% of June COVID deaths were among the unvaccinated.

And in Chicago, since the start of the year, 97% of COVID hosptitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated residents.

"I will tell you, we are doing about 4,000 vaccinations every day just in the City of Chicago," Arwady said.

And come fall, parents of school-aged kids should expect news on childhood vaccine. Testing is underway now, but school-aged vaccinations will likely be available in October, according to Dr. Arwady. And the youngest children should have vaccines available at year's end.

The AARP and the Suntimes sponsored the talk between the two doctors, just days after the AARP revealed a new study that 45% of Illinois nursing home workers are unvaccinated.

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