File Photo – Lake County Health Department | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

The CDC is recommending masks for the elderly and the immunocompromised after Lake County was upgraded to “medium community level” of COVID-19 on Friday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Friday that 24,646 new cases of COVID-19 and 46 deaths were reported since last Friday.

As of Thursday night, 732 people were reportedly hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

75 of them are in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 32 were on ventilators, IDPH said.

Officials say the case rate has been slowly rising in the state.

Five Illinois counties, including Lake County, are now rated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a medium community level of COVID-19.

Health officials say those who are elderly or immunocompromised should take precautions and wear a mask in indoor public places.

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Officials also recommend those people get vaccinated or receive their second booster if they are eligible.

IDPH said the state is “strongly positioned” to respond to a new surge of COVID-19 cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 3.1 million cases and nearly 34,000 deaths have been reported in all of Illinois’ 102 counties.

Nearly 22 million vaccines have been administered in the state.

Since last Friday, 111,391 doses were reportedly administered in Illinois, bringing the percentage of residents who have received at least one dose to more than 76%.

Over 68% of Illinois residents are fully vaccinated and over 51% of them are boosted, data from the CDC shows.

Officials continue to recommend residents get vaccinated.

“The most important point we want to stress about COVID-19 treatments is that timing is essential, and the public should know that it is critically important to consult a healthcare provider and seek treatment immediately if you test positive,” IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars said.

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“The treatments are widely available with a prescription, and they are much more effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths when they are taken early in the course of the illness,” Tokars added.